LONDON: Argentina superstar Lionel Messi will join American Major League Soccer club Inter Miami after his exit from French champions Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), according to a BBC report on Wednesday.
The former Barcelona player is set to reject a more lucrative offer from Saudi Arabian side
Al-Hilal and play in the same competition as Cristiano
Ronaldo and Karim Benzema but Messi has opted to reject it, the report added.
The report also puts an end to the speculations of the Argentine legend’s return to his boyhood club Barcelona.
The transfer will be a major boost for American football, which has attracted superstars like Pele, David Beckham and Thierry Henry over the years, but signing Messi might require something creative from both the league and the Miami team.
The deal with the MLS club includes collaboration from brands like Adidas and Apple.
While with Barcelona, Messi, 35, earned himself a record six Ballon d’Or awards as the world’s top player. He remains the team’s all-time scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances, and the top scorer in the Spanish league with 474 goals in 520 matches. He won 10 La Liga titles, four
Champions Leagues and seven Spanish Cups.
Messi was heavily tipped to be favouring a move to Saudi Arabia, but he was ultimately tempted to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami for a variety of reasons including lifestyle, and a deal with big brands that extends beyond football.
He already owns a house in Miami, which he currently rents out.
He was keen on a return to Barcelona this summer but the Financial Fair Play limitations that will be in place for next season in La Liga made any ambitious plan to bring him back an impossibility.
Paris Saint-Germain won Ligue 1 in both his seasons at the club but went out in the Champions League last 16, which means his time in France was not seen as a huge success.
He netted 32 goals in 75 games for the club - and ended this season with 16 goals and 16 assists in Ligue 1.
Messi’s two-year contract comes to an end this summer and both parties agreed to go their separate ways, with the forward suspended for two weeks in May for an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia.
His legacy comes from his time at Barcelona and winning the World Cup with Argentina in December. He left Barcelona in 2021, after 21 years with the club, because of the club’s financial problems. – Agencies