Lionel Messi is heading to play for Inter Miami. The Argentinian soccer superstar told Spanish media on Wednesday he will join the Major League Soccer club.
Messi, who won a Mundo Deportivo y Sport he considered leaving Europe despite being linked to a return to his former club, Barcelona, and Saudi team Al-Hilal, which reportedly offered him $300 million per year.last year, told
"I made the decision that I will go to Miami ... If the Barcelona offer didn't pan out, I wanted to leave Europe, leave the spotlight and think more about my family," the 35-year-old told the outlet.
"I had offers from other European clubs but I didn't even evaluate those because my idea was to return to Barcelona ... the only thing left to close my career was to play in the league in the United States and enjoy the day-to-day with the same responsibility of wanting to win and do things well but with tranquility," he added.
His new team acknowledged reports swirling around Messi in a video on Twitter, and at the end included letters of his last name in Inter Miami's signature pink colors.
Major League Soccer said in a statement that they are "pleased" Messi intends to join Inter Miami and the league this summer.
"Although work remains to finalize a formal agreement, we look forward to welcoming one of the greatest soccer players of all time to our League," the MLS said.
What are the details in Messi's contract with Inter Miami?
As the MLS pointed out, a contract has yet to be finalized. His representation and Inter Miami's owners had to get creative in their offer to bring Messi stateside.
The New York Times reported that the offer included a roster spot free of the limitations of the MLS' salary rules, an ownership stake in the club once he retires, and revenue-sharing agreements with Apple and Adidas, both of which have existing relationships with Messi. Last June, a 10-year partnership on Apple's streaming service that will allow fans to watch every game without blackouts or restrictions.
Inter Miami is the MLS' 11th most valuable franchise and is worth $600 million, according to Forbes. The financial outlet estimated Messi has made nearly $1.3 billion on and off the pitch throughout his career – twice the value of the team. The expectation is that his arrival will boost the value of the team and MLS.
After spending the last two years playing for French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain, Messi's announcement came as speculation filled the soccer world over his potential next stop. He was suspended by the club last month for taking a, where he has a commercial contract with the country to promote tourism there, souring any chance of returning to PSG. He had hoped for a reunion with Barcelona and entertained an offer from the Saudi club, but Messi suggested in his interview, his decision was not about money.
Messi is widely considered one of the greatest players to ever wear a soccer jersey. In December, he led Argentina to its first World Cup title since 1986. He won league titles in French and Spanish leagues and four Champions League trophies with Barcelona.
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