'I'm Going to Miami.' Lionel Messi Is Heading to the MLS's Inter Miami CF. In a surprise decision, the soccer star says he's hanging up his cleats in Europe to play in the U.S.
Lionel Messi, one of the best players in soccer history, announced today that he will be leaving the European league to play for Inter Miami CF of the MLS.
The 35-year-old star soccer won the World Cup for Argentina in 2022, and is a seven-time World Player of the Year. Many predicted Messi would either follow in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo and play for the Saudi Premier League or sign with Barcelona FC for the 2023-24 season for $25 million. But the player known for trick plays seems to have fooled them all.
Related: 5 Things to Learn from Lionel Messi
The soccer world reacts
Many were shocked by Messi's decision. Inter Miami, which is co-owned by another soccer legend David Beckham and has an Argentinian coach, is the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
Barcelona FC said in a statement that club president Joan Laporta "understood and respected Messi's decision to want to compete in a league with fewer demands, further away from the spotlight and the pressure he has been subject to in recent years".
Lionel Messi actually rejected €1.2Billion for a team in the bottom place in the US..— ??????? (@ChaaliiyKay) June 7, 2023
What is the name of this challenge please? pic.twitter.com/H3XUDytzhu
I don't understand this MLS move by Lionel Messi but it's his choice. And truly, there is nothing left to conquer in Europe. I wish he stayed 2 more years instead of the long gruelling travel of club games in the United States. Glad he won't be back to Barça!— JJ. Omojuwa (@Omojuwa) June 7, 2023
But according to Messi biographer Guillem Balague, "Messi was ultimately tempted to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami for a variety of reasons, including lifestyle and a deal with big brands that extends beyond football." He added that Messi has a house in Miami.
One person that wasn't disappointed was Miami's mayor Francis Suarez.
"We literally beat his longtime home team and an incredible financial package from one of the wealthiest countries because Miami is the most exciting and dynamic city in the world," he wrote on Twitter.
We got Messi! ⚽️?️— Mayor Francis Suarez (@MiamiMayor) June 7, 2023
Miami is on fire ?? pic.twitter.com/EiWyXcylde