Argentine superstar Lionel Messi has signed a contract until 2025 with Inter Miami, the Major League Soccer team announced on Saturday.
The 36-year-old striker who sparked Argentina to a World Cup title last year in Qatar, is set to be unveiled by the team in a Sunday ceremony and expected to join Inter Miami on the pitch as early as Friday.
“I’m very excited to start this next step in my career with Inter Miami and in the United States,” Messi, who moves from Paris Saint-Germain, said in a statement.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is expected to spark greater interest in the sport and MLS across the United States and revive the fortunes of a Miami squad at the bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference at 5-13 with three drawn.
This is a fantastic opportunity and together we will continue to build this beautiful project,” Messi said. “The idea is to work together to achieve the objectives we set and I’m very eager to start helping here in my new home.”
Messi’s debut is expected on Friday when Inter Miami will host Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup, a revamped competition between MLS and Mexican league squads.
It’s the biggest boost for the North American League since English star David Beckham, now a co-owner of Inter Miami, joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007. He launched the MLS squad in 2020 after years of trying to find a stadium site.
“Ten years ago, when I started my journey to build a new team in Miami, I said that I dreamt of bringing the greatest players in the world to this amazing city, players who shared the ambition I had when I joined LA Galaxy to help grow football in the USA and to build a legacy for the next generation in this sport that we love so much,” Beckham said in a statement.
“Today that dream came true.
“I couldn’t be prouder that a player of Leo’s caliber is joining our club, but I am also delighted to welcome a good friend, an amazing person and his beautiful family to join our Inter Miami community.
“The next phase of our adventure starts here and I can’t wait to see Leo take to the pitch.” (AFP)