“I decided to go to Miami. I’m not one hundred percent closed yet. I’m missing some things, but we decided to continue my journey,” the seven-time world player said in an interview published by Spanish outlets SPORT and Mundo Deportivo.
Messi was awarded the Ballon d’Or at the World Cup – the prize given to the best player in the tournament – and lifted his country to World Cup glory in December. It followed rumors of a lucrative deal in the Middle East and reports of a return to his beloved Barcelona.
Instead, Messi has followed the path of other superstar players who have moved to MLS.
David Beckham’s move to Inter Miami is not entirely surprising. Beckham is a well-known fan of Messi, and quipped in 2019, “You never know what can happen in football,” when asked about signing the Argentine one day.
Earlier on Wednesday, Inter Miami’s CEO and managing owner tweeted a cryptic image that partially revealed the final name of the No. 10 shirt — showing only the last two letters, “SI.”
MLS has not finalized a deal with Messi, but Messi welcomed the opportunity to play in the league.
“We are pleased that Lionel Messi has stated his desire to join Inter Miami and Major League Soccer this summer,” the league said in a statement on Wednesday. “While work remains to be done to finalize a formal agreement, we look forward to welcoming one of the greatest football players of all time to our league.”
CNN Inter Miami, Messi’s representative and David Beckham – part of Inter Miami’s ownership group.
Ever since Messi announced his retirement from the France team, there has been speculation about his next move Paris St. Germain (PSG), will play his last game for the club on Saturday.
An earlier BBC report by football reporter Guillem Balagu said Messi would reject an offer from Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal.
Messi left Barcelona in tears in 2021 after financial mismanagement at the club, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, meant its talisman could not be offered a new contract.
FC Barcelona, in a statement, said the player’s father and representative, Jorge Messi, informed club president Joan Laborta on Monday of his son’s decision to join Inter Miami despite the European team’s offer.
Laporta “understands and respects Messi’s decision to compete in a league with fewer demands, not in the spotlight and away from the pressure he has experienced in recent years,” the statement said.
Laporta and the elder Messi agreed to work together to promote “a tribute by Barça fans to honor a footballer who was, was and will always be loved by Barça”.
At PSG, Messi won two Ligue 1 titles in his two seasons, but was unable to help the club win the Champions League for the first time in its history.
Messi’s time at the club ended harshly after PSG suspended him for a trip abroad to Saudi Arabia, for which he later apologized.
His final game for PSG ended in defeat as the Ligue 1 champions lost 3-2 at home to Clermont Football on Saturday.
Messi’s final season in Paris was sensational. He scored 21 goals and provided 20 assists in all competitions, helping the team to the Ligue 1 title, as PSG again failed to progress beyond the last 16 of the Champions League, the trophy the club so desperately wanted.
At Messi’s final – as well as in several recent games – some PSG fans booed the superstar.
Before his two seasons with PSG, Messi spent 17 trophy-laden years at Barcelona, where he went from schoolboy to sporting legend.
Earlier this week, Messi’s preferred move was a return to Barcelona, his father said.
In a recent interview with CNN Sport, Messi said that he will continue to enjoy playing and that at the age of 35, he should give it a few more years.
“I see … to keep enjoying, to keep playing, that’s what’s always made me happy,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong date for Messi’s last match with Paris Saint-Germain. It was Saturday.