Lionel Messi Signs With Inter Miami in Watershed Deal for MLS and US Soccer

Soccer legend’s contract will run through the 2025 season and he debut in a July 21 match with Mexican club Cruz Azul

Lionel Messi Signs With Inter Miami in Watershed Deal for MLS and US Soccer.
By Felipe Marques
July 16, 2023 | 09:32 AM

Bloomberg — Lionel Messi finalized his deal to join Inter Miami, signing a multi-million-dollar contract that soccer fans hope will mark a turning point in the US for the world’s most popular sport.

Messi’s contract will run though the 2025 Major League Soccer season, according to a Saturday statement. Inter Miami will introduce him Sunday night at its stadium in Fort Lauderdale and he will be available for the July 21 match-up with Mexican club Cruz Azul.

Ticket prices for that match had already skyrocketed, after Messi said he was moving to Miami and planned to join Inter Miami.

“I’m very excited to start this next step in my career with Inter Miami and in the United States,” Messi said in the statement. “I’m very eager to start helping here in my new home.”

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The Argentine soccer legend could make as much as $150 million over 2 1/2 years, according to Sportico, in a transaction that also includes a stake in the club and revenue-sharing agreements with Apple Inc. and Adidas AG. It was enough to make him pass on a offer from Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal, which offered the 36-year-old player a deal that would have earned him around $400 million annually, according to news reports.

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Messi arrived in Miami last week, sparking a frenzy. Soccer fans have followed his every move through social media, including a visit to a Florida supermarket, while giant Messi murals are sprouting across the city.

At Inter Miami, Messi will be reunited with former Barcelona and Argentina coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who took over as head coach in late June. Together they will have to turn around a low-performing club that has never contended for a title. Inter Miami is owned by David Beckham and the Mas family.

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“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,” Beckham said in the statement. “Today that dream came true.”

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