When Argentinian football star Lionel Messi announced he was moving to Miami to play for American Major League Soccer team Inter Miami, it set the sports world ablaze. Messi is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, and the Lionel Messi-Inter Miami combo has already brought huge wins for the team, both on and off the field.
Lionel Messi rose to fame while playing for Barcelona FC, which he joined at the age of 17. During his time with the esteemed football club, he won his first Ballon d’Or a (annual football award) at the age of 22. Since then, he has gone on to win a total of seven Ballons d’Or, the most any football player has ever been awarded.
After leaving Barcelona FC, he played for two seasons with the French club Paris Saint-Germain, winning them numerous victories including the prestigious Ligue 1. He also led the Argentinian national team to victory in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. By the time Messi left PSG in 2023, he had broken another record, scoring the most goals in the history of Europe’s top five leagues.
To say that Messi was highly sought after in the spring of 2023 would be a huge understatement. Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal offered Messi an astounding $1.6 billion over three years. There was also talk of Messi returning to his stomping grounds at Barcelona FC. However, in the end it was Inter Miami that Lionel Messi chose.
Inter Miami CF
Inter Miami CF was established in 2018 and is co-owned by David Beckham, who is also the president. Based out of Fort Lauderdale, the club has had its ups and downs over the years. Prior to Messi joining, the team was on a long-running losing streak. That all changed in July of this year.
The Lionel Messi’s Effect
As soon as Lionel Messi joined Inter Miami, ticket sales soared and the DRV PNK stadium was packed out consistently. In addition, merchandise flew off the racks, and subscribers to Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass have more than doubled. Expectations have been high, and so far, Messi has met them. In August, 2023, Inter Miami won its first Leagues Cup title.
But what was it that drew the super star player to Florida? The Lionel Messi Inter Miami contract is reportedly worth $150 million in total, which is far less than what he would have earned with Al-Hilal. It appears that rather than chasing money, Messi made a lifestyle choice.
Miami is known as a hub of Latin American culture, so it makes sense that the Argentinian would feel more at home here than in Saudi Arabia. Messi has commented on how welcoming the community has been. And with the purchase of a new 8-bedroom waterfront home in Fort Lauderdale, he and his wife Antonela have the ideal spot to settle in with their three sons.
There’s no doubt that great things will happen with Lionel Messi in Miami. They already are. Inter Miami got their first trophy in club history back in August and Inter Miami is already projected to generate a record-breaking $200 million in revenue in 2024. More fans than ever are flocking to the city, and more people are being exposed to the excitement of the game. Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in the world, and now with the number one player calling the city home, it’s safe to say that Messi is changing the landscape of Miami.
Image credit: Leo Messi Instagram