Lionel Messi, one of the most decorated players in world football history, is headed to Major League Soccer, a watershed moment for the 27-year-old league.
Messi, in a joint interview with Spain’s Mundo Deportivo and Sport, revealed that he would join Inter Miami CF after 2 seasons with Paris Saint-Germain. Inter Miami tweeted a hype video moments later ahead of its official announcement.
While Messi’s intent to make the move to South Florida was known, the official announcement didn’t come until July 15. Messi will be introduced during a media/fan event on July 16, with a press conference scheduled for the next day, July 17.
The 35-year-old spent his entire professional career with FC Barcelona before joining the French superpower. With Barcelona, he scored 474 times over 520 appearances, winning La Liga 10 times and the UEFA Champions League 4 times. He also won the Ballon d’Or 6 times.
Messi then made his way to PSG, with whom he won Ligue 1 twice while adding a 7th Ballon d’Or. He combined for 32 goals in 58 appearances for the Parisian side.
His crowning achievement, though, came in the winter, when he won the FIFA World Cup with Argentina, La Albiceleste’s first world championship triumph since 1986.
Messi’s decision easily surpasses that of another high-profile player to ply his trade in North America. Sixteen years ago, David Beckham sent shockwaves through the sport as he signed for the LA Galaxy after spells at both Manchester United and Real Madrid. As a result, MLS created the Designated Player rule (aka the “Beckham rule”) to provide a pathway for higher-profile players to sign for clubs with only a portion of their annual salary counting toward the cap. Beckham, of course, is a part-owner of Inter Miami, along with brothers Jorge and Jose Mas.
Now, all eyes will be on Messi as he makes his own stateside move to South Florida, one that has massive implications for MLS on a global scale.