Major League Soccer completed its biggest transfer in history on Wednesday when Lionel Messi confirmed that he will leave Paris Saint-Germain to join Inter Miami.
BREAKING: Lionel Messi to Inter Miami, here we go! The decision has been made and it will be announced by Leo in the next hours #InterMiamiMessi will play in MLS. No more chances for Barcelona/Al Hilal despite trying to make it happen.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) June 7, 2023
Breaking: Lionel Messi says he's going to play for Inter Miami, he told SPORT and Mundo Deportivo. pic.twitter.com/G6j0yNRaMr— ESPN (@espn) June 7, 2023
A statement from Major League Soccer. pic.twitter.com/wq6mOdbr4r— MLS Communications (@MLS_PR) June 7, 2023
Messi had previously said that he wouldn’t resign with PSG for next season which left three clubs as the frontrunners for his signature. Barcelona, Saudi side Al Hilal and Inter Miami were the three destinations Messi had to choose from.
So, why did Messi choose Inter Miami over Al Hilal and Barcelona? The Argentine World Cup winner sat down with Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo and explained his choice in a 25-minute video.
Why did Messi choose Inter Miami
Each club presented their own alluring reasons to join. Al Hilal offered a ludicrous amount of money with the option of a deal worth more than $1 billion.
Sources close to Al Hilal deny any new, improved proposal to Leo Messi. It’s still the same bid on the table revealed back in April — close to €1B package salary x two years. #AlHilalInter Miami presented their bid last week.
Still waiting for Messi’s final decision. pic.twitter.com/waSEvXYAgJ
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) June 6, 2023
Barcelona is the club where Messi’s heart belongs and the place he played nearly his entire career. Messi had to leave Barcelona in 2021 after the club didn’t have enough of a wage budget to offer him a new contract. The money hurdle was still in Barça’s way for resigning Messi.
Meanwhile Inter Miami and MLS got creative and offered Messi the option for part-ownership of Inter Miami, a cut of Apple’s revenue for MLS Season Pass purchases and revenue from adidas.
Included in Lionel Messi's deal with Inter Miami:➡️ Percentage on subscriptions to the MLS Season Pass from APPLE TV, paid directly by APPLE
➡️ Percentage of Inter Miami shirt sales, paid directly by Adidas
➡️ Possibility of acquiring an MLS franchise at the end of his… pic.twitter.com/liWC0wgDt8
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) June 7, 2023
Here’s what Messi had to say on the matter during his interview with Mundo Deportivo.
“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 said.
“I wanted to return (to Barcelona), I was very excited to be able to return, but after having experienced what I experienced and the exit I had (in 2021), I did not want to be in the same situation again: waiting to see what was going to happen and leaving my future in the hands of another.”
“Although I heard that it was said that LaLiga had accepted everything and that everything was fine for me to return, there were still many other things that had to be done. I heard that they had to sell players or lower player salaries and the truth is that I didn't want to go through that, or take charge of obtaining something that had to do with all that. I had offers in Europe. But the only team I wanted was Barça."
“Barcelona sent me an offer, but never sent me an official, signed, written offer.”
Messi hinted that there’s still a chance he could return to his favorite club.
"I hope to be able to come back to Barcelona one day, I don't know how but it's the club that I love. I appreciate the affection people have received and I would like to be there one day," Messi said.
Family was also a factor into Messi’s decision who admitted that the last two years in Paris hadn’t gone well.
"I'm at a moment where I want to break away a little, think more about my family. The last two years haven't been that good for my family. It was a difficult two years for me in general. These were two years in which I was not happy, I did not enjoy myself, and that affected my family life, I missed a lot of my children's lives at school."
It's rumored that Messi's Miami debut could come in August.
"After winning the World Cup and not being able to return to Barcelona, it was my turn to go to the league of the United States to live football in another way and to enjoy the day-to-day more. Obviously, with the same responsibility and desire to play well and do things well as always. But in a calmer way."