By: Gabrielle Nordstrom
Edited By: Kylie Augis
Lionel Messi, 35, is set to sign with Inter Miami, a Major League Soccer club; the biggest signing in the 27 year history.
Messi has never played in the MLS. The MLS, based out of the United States, is looked at as one of the lower tier soccer leagues in the world. Having Messi sign with this league will bring more of an audience to the games, boosting the popularity of the league.
Any team in any league would take Messi. He had different options in different leagues, but ultimately decided to begin his United States career. Some of his options were outside of MLS, including a return to Barcelona, who he played most of his career with, and a $1 billion payday from a club in Saudi Arabia, but he recently told Mundo Deportivo and Sport that MLS was the most attractive option for him and his family.
Inter Miami had about one million followers on Instagram before Messi announced the signing. Twenty-four hours after the announcement, Inter Miami had more than five million followers, more than any NHL, NFL, MLS and MLB team. The MLS team with the second most followers is the LA Galaxy with only 1.5 million followers.
This comes to no surprise as the soccer legend is the second most followed person on Instagram, with 471 million followers.
Ticket prices have also skyrocketed since the announcement. The cheapest ticket for Inter Miami's match against the New York Red Bulls on Aug. 25 is now $347 on SeatGeek, up from the $99 price on Monday.
Just last December Messi led his home country, Argentina, to their first World Cup since 1986. He has won a record seven Ballon d'Or awards, the player who performed the best, and a record six European Golden Shoes, leading goal scorer, and in 2020 he was named to the Ballon d'Or Dream Team, an all-time all star team. Messi is looked at as one of the greatest soccer players of all time.
Courtesy of Marcelo Endelli/ Getty Images
Messi plays a forward position. When watching him play it is understood why he is one of the greatest soccer players ever. His excellent ball control, footwork, vision of the field, playmaking abilities, finishing, passing, speed, etc. He has it all.
Messi will make about $53 million annually with Inter Miami, the largest contract in the MLS by far. No athlete gets paid higher than $10 million in the MLS as of now. Messi will also have the fifth largest contract of all sports in the United States.
Messi’s contract with his current team, Paris Saint-Germain, ends on June 30. After that he can join Inter Miami for the rest of the MLS season. Meaning, Messi could make his MLS debut on July 8 when Inter Miami plays D.C. United.
The MLS season plays until the end of October. After that, the MLS playoffs take place. Currently Inter Miami is in last place in the eastern conference.
There are many questions awaiting his arrival in the states.
How will Messi change the league? Will soccer finally begin to get the recognition it deserves in the United States? Will Messi’s arrival boost Inter Miami’s performance?
Only time will tell, but the one thing we know is that soccer fans in the United States are very excited for Messi to begin playing here.