Messi chooses Inter Miami over Saudi, Spain football clubs

Lionel Messi announces he intends to join Major League Soccer side Inter Miami as a free agent after parting ways with French champions Paris St Germain and snubbing a lucrative contract offer in Saudi Arabia. (Photo/AFP)

Lionel Messi has announced he will sign for Major League Soccer side Inter Miami, choosing the United States as his next destination over a Barcelona reunion or blockbuster deal to play in Saudi Arabia.

Messi said he did not want to wait for Barcelona to find a formula to sign him given their financial situation — they were unable to keep him before his move to PSG, leading to a tearful departure.

MLS and Inter Miami on Wednesday confirmed the news on social media, although the American league noted, "Work remains to finalise a formal agreement".

"I've taken the decision that I am going to Miami, I don't have [the deal] 100 percent sealed or maybe there's something left to do, but we decided to continue our path there," Messi told Spanish newspapers Diario Sport and Mundo Deportivo.

"[I decided] to leave Europe ... After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barca, it's time to go to MLS to live football in a different way and enjoy my day-to-day life more.

Obviously, with the same responsibility and desire to win, and to do things well, but with more calm."

Messi is a seven-time Ballon d'Or winner and is expected to earn the individual accolade once more after leading Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar in December 2022.

The football world was eagerly awaiting Messi's decision after PSG confirmed this week the playmaker, widely considered the best player in the history of football, was departing.

Messi, who turns 36 later in June, is now set to finish his club career outside the spotlight of top-level European football.

'Wanted to come back'

Messi said he would have loved to return to Barcelona but was afraid that the financial complications which stopped the Catalan club from extending his deal in 2021 would interfere again.

"I really wanted to come back, I was really looking forward to it," continued Messi.

"But, on the other hand, after having lived through what I lived through, after the exit I had ... I didn't want to go through the same situation again and have to wait to see what was going to happen.

"I didn't want to leave my future in the hands of others. Somehow, I wanted to make my own decision for myself, for my family."

Messi said he plans to live in Barcelona again in the future and be involved with his former side in some way.

"I don't know at what moment and when but hopefully, I can return one day to contribute something to the club," he said.

Barcelona said in a statement they had made an offer to Messi but the club "respected Messi's decision to want to compete in a league ... further away from the spotlight and pressure he has been subject to".

Big names in US

Many big football names have joined the MLS through the years, including Dutch legend Johan Cruyff in 1979, German Franz Beckenbauer in 1977, English David Beckham in 2007, French forward Thierry Henry in 2010, English forward Wayne Rooney in 2018, and Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2018.

Ibrahimovic, known for his bold statements, said in an interview on the "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" show in 2018 that he himself was the best gift he could give to Los Angeles.

He later described himself as a "Ferrari among Fiats." He retired from football two days ago at the age of 41.

World Cup winner Messi joined Barcelona's academy at 13 years old after leaving his homeland.

He became the Catalan club's greatest icon, scoring a record 672 goals in 778 games, winning 35 trophies, including four Champions League triumphs and 10 La Liga titles.


Source: TRT