May 21, 2024

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Lionel Messi’s transfer to Inter Miami has ended with MLS confirming the deal;  It will be unveiled Sunday

Lionel Messi’s transfer to Inter Miami has ended with MLS confirming the deal; It will be unveiled Sunday

Lionel Messi has completed his transfer to Major League Soccer team Inter Miami.

His contract is for two and a half seasons, with an option to extend for another year in the 2026 season.

The club tweeted a video of Messi – wearing the number 10 shirt – on Saturday and later confirmed his arrival after the deal was finally ratified by MLS.

Messi will be officially unveiled to fans at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at an event on Sunday (8:30pm ET, 1:30am BST Monday).

His new club said he would be available for selection for the first time against Cruz Azul of LIGA MX in the opening match of the League Cup on July 21.

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“I am very excited to start this next step in my career with Inter Miami and the United States,” said Messi.

“This is a great opportunity and together we will continue to build this beautiful project. The idea is to work together to achieve the goals we have set, and I am very excited to start helping here in my new home.”

Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham says he has a “dream” of bringing a player like Messi to Miami.

“Ten years ago, when I began my journey to build a new team in Miami, I said I dreamed of bringing the greatest players in the world to this amazing city. Players who shared the ambition I had when I joined the LA Galaxy said: To help grow USA Soccer and build a legacy for the next generation in the sport we love so much.”

Today that dream came true. I couldn’t be more proud to have a player of Leo’s caliber join our club, but I’m also happy to welcome a good friend, an amazing person, and his beautiful family to the Inter Miami community. The next phase of our adventure begins here, and I can’t wait to see Leo take to the field.”

“We are so thrilled to select the greatest player in the world Inter Miami and MLS, and his decision is a testament to the momentum and energy behind our league and our North American sport,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.

“We have no doubt that Lionel will show the world that MLS can be the league of choice for the best players in the game. We look forward to seeing his debut for Inter Miami in the League Cup tournament later this month.”

The 36-year-old announced in early June that he had decided to move to MLS after his exit from Paris Saint-Germain, despite interest from former club Barcelona and Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal.

All parties have spent the past month on the complex deal, which includes additions to MLS’ standard player agreement. Messi is expected to take a stake in Inter Miami when he finishes as a player, and Miami owner Jorge Mas told reporters he expects the total package to be worth in the region of $50-60 million annually.

Messi, who has yet to start training, has spent the past few weeks vacationing with his family in the Bahamas and landed at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport on July 11.

He will join former coach Tata Martino at the club after being appointed head coach in June.

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Messi left Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season after his two-year contract with the Ligue 1 side expired.

Barcelona, ​​who left Messi to join Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2021, has repeatedly expressed interest in re-signing the Argentina star and World Cup winner.

Messi also received an offer from Saudi club Al-Hilal, which would have seen the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner fetch around €400m a year.

but the athlete I reported back in October that Inter Miami were increasingly confident in their multi-year pursuit.

His move to MLS is a major coup as the United States prepares to host the 2026 World Cup alongside Canada and Mexico.

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When will Messi play for Miami and what number will he wear?

The MLS transfer window opened on July 5, and Miami will have an away game on July 15, before playing at home on July 21 and July 25 in the League Cup, MLS’ new venture with Liga MX.

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The July 21st match against Cruz Azul has been set to mark Messi’s debut. Tickets for that game are sold out.

If Miami qualifies out of the group stage, they will play more League Cup matches.

Their next MLS home game won’t end until August 20th at home against Charlotte FC. Then they play on the road at the New York Red Bulls before welcoming Nashville SC to Ft. Lauderdale on August 30th.

Messi’s No. 10 shirts for Barcelona and Argentina remain iconic in football history, to the point where it was completely strange to see him wear the number 30 in his two seasons with PSG (although he had previously worn that number as a youth with Barcelona).

Now, Messi returns to the classic: He will almost certainly wear number 10 for Miami, which the club has deliberately kept vacant all season in hopes of his arrival.


Why did the Messi deal take so long to complete?

Analysis by Paul Tenorio, Pablo Maurer, and Tom Bogert

Due to MLS’ single-entity structure, players sign contracts with the league, not individual teams.

But unlike regular MLS contracts, Messi wasn’t a simple order. For a legendary player and potentially league-altering signing, MLS and Inter Miami innovated in compensation to ensure he was not lured to Saudi Arabia.

Messi’s contract includes an option to buy a stake in Inter Miami, and part of the deal also entails discussions with Apple regarding revenue sharing on new MLS Season Pass subscriptions. A source familiar with the negotiations said the Apple deal would be based on revenue paid by new international subscribers.

There was also the compensation structure itself, and the tax implications of how the contract was drafted, as well as things like marketing and image rights. These negotiations come down to subtle levels, such as the entities that own the rights to the Messi name and No. 10 for use in various products, for example.

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How much does Messi earn and who pays it?

Messi’s deal is worth around $50-60 million annually, although that includes the value of his stake in Inter Miami, which will be activated after his time with the club.

In addition, Messi will receive additional income through MLS partners.

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He’ll get a portion of the new MLS Season Pass subscriptions on Apple TV, as well as compensation agreements from Adidas (a longtime sponsor and kit maker for MLS and all 29 clubs) and Fanatics.

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Portions of the Adidas and Apple deal are functionally separate from the base salary he would earn entirely as an MLS player. The MLS Players Association will release all players’ salary details later this year, as it did a few months ago. Messi’s number will be eagerly anticipated.

All parties see the deal as a blessing; Apple and MLS signed a 10-year, $2.5 billion agreement this spring. Apple also revealed a four-part documentary series chronicling Messi’s five World Cup appearances that will air on Apple TV+.

Meanwhile, Adidas has been partnering with MLS since the league’s inception in 1996. The two sides renewed their partnership earlier this year, signing a six-year, $830 million extension through 2030. The German manufacturer provides kits for all 2 MLS teams. 29 and also designs the league’s official ball and is the league’s official shoe sponsor.

Messi himself has a long-standing relationship with Adidas, which began in 2006. In 2017, he signed a lifetime shoe sponsorship deal with the company.

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Inter Miami – the lowdown

Inter Miami was established in 2018 and has been playing Major League Soccer since 2020.

It is owned by brothers Jorge and Jose Mas along with former England captain David Beckham, who played MLS soccer with the Los Angeles Galaxy between 2007 and 2012 after more than a decade at Manchester United and four years at Real Madrid.

Inter Miami currently play at the 18,000-seat DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, but permission has been granted to begin construction on Miami Freedom Park, the $1 billion (£860m) stadium complex that gives Inter Miami a great home.

The club experienced a turbulent period after launch when it entered MLS during the COVID-19 pandemic and was subsequently penalized for breaking budget rules.

Their challenging period continued into this term, with the franchise bottom in the Eastern Conference standings when Phil Neville was sacked.

(Photo: Inter Miami FC)