The Argentine is now poised to become the latest superstar to feature in MLS.
Messi may prove a transformative figure for the league just like Pele in the 1970s, with football now emerging as the second-most popular sport in the USA for participation at a pivotal moment in the build-up to the 2026 World Cup.
Here’s everything we know about Messi’s impending move to Inter Miami:
Why did Messi choose Inter Miami over Saudi Arabia and Barcelona?
Lionel Messi said in an exclusive interview to Sport and Mundo Deportivo: “I’m going to join Inter Miami. The decision is 100% confirmed.
“If it had been a matter of money, I’d have gone to Saudi Arabia or elsewhere. It seemed like a lot of money to me. The truth is that my final decision goes elsewhere and not because of money”.
Messi reportedly rejected a deal from Saudi Arabia worth approximately $400m.
While Barcelona, who faced FFP struggles in their attempt to bring Messi back to the Camp Nou, appeared upset at his decision to move to the United States, with a statement reading: “President Joan Laporta understood and respected Messi’s decision to want to compete in a league with fewer demands, further away from the spotlight and the pressure he has been subject to in recent years.”
What is the deal Inter Miami are offering Messi?
The exact terms of Messi’s new salary and the length of the contract are yet to be known.
Regardless of the exact final figure, Messi is almost certain to become the highest-paid player in MLS, with Chicago Fire’s Xherdan Shaqiri currently the top earner on $8,153,000, according to Spotrac.
Messi may also be handed a purchase option for part of an MLS team once he retires, in a similar manner to David Beckham’s contract with the LA Galaxy signed 16 years ago that allowed him to purchase Inter Miami.
Who owns Inter Miami?
Inter Miami is owned by David Beckham and Jorge Mas, an American businessman. Beckham had the option to purchase an MLS expansion team for $25m as part of his contract signed when playing for LA Galaxy. Beckham and the ownership team were awarded MLS’s 25th franchise in late January 2018.
Why are Apple and Adidas involved?
Apple and Adidas are involved in the deal, sources have told The Independent.
Apple and MLS signed a 10-year, $2.5bn deal earlier this year and see Messi as a key player to expand interest in the league.
Apple is especially invested in Messi, having made a four-part docuseries surrounding Messi’s five World Cup appearances, which will soon stream on Apple TV+.
Adidas, meanwhile, a corporate sponsor of MLS, has looked into a profit-sharing agreement with Messi, sources tell The Independent, which will be aligned to any future increase in MLS-related sales linked to the player.
The sportswear giant, which has sponsored Messi since 2006, has been tied to MLS since its inception in 1996 and will continue to supply kits to all 29 teams and provide the league’s official match ball until 2030 after penning a six-year, $830m extension.
Who will be Messi’s new teammates?
Messi's future teammates include Venezuelan forward Josef Martínez, the 2018 MLS golden boot winner. Former Newcastle defender DeAndre Yedlin and designated players Rodolfo Pizarro and Leonardo Campana will also line up alongside Messi.
“It’s another of the things they said, that I was going with Busi and Jordi to Saudi Arabia, that we had everything arranged. I was obviously aware of them, what they were going to do, but we never agreed to go anywhere together,” Messi said.
“I made my decision for myself and I don’t know what they’re going to do. I don’t have anything agreed with anyone.”
When will Lionel Messi make his Inter Miami debut and how much will the tickets cost?
Prices for rumoured Messi matches for Inter Miami have skyrocketed. Messi is due to join the club on 5 July, when the league’s secondary transfer window opens.
Inter Miami will travel to D.C. United on 8 July but Messi is not guaranteed to play at Audi Field.
That hasn’t stopped fans from taking a risk, with tickets for D.C.’s next league match at home to Real Salt Lake available on Ticketmaster (the club’s official ticketing partner) for as little as $29. But when Miami visit, the cheapest ticket is $186 without fees at the time of writing. More than 4,500 tickets have been sold since the announcement.
A trip to St Louis on 15 July follows, with cup matches against Cruz Azul on 21 July and Atlanta on 25 July other potential options to watch the legendary player in action. A potential home MLS debut will likely have to wait until 20 August when Miami play Charlotte.