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Lionel Messi to Inter Miami: The Details Behind the Biggest Transfer in American Soccer History

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
After months of rumors, the seemingly impossible is now real — learn how Inter Miami, MLS, Apple, and Adidas brought the GOAT stateside and changed the sport in the US forever.

Major League Soccer will be home to the greatest soccer player to ever live. On Wednesday, Lionel Messi reportedly agreed to join Inter Miami CF in the most unique, far-reaching, and game-changing deal the league has ever forged.

The Athletic reports Messi could make his Inter Miami debut as early as July 21 against Mexican club Cruz Azul in the inaugural Leagues Cup. While full details have yet to be confirmed, the MLS offer beat out a reported two-year, $1.3 billion (!) offer from Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal and a potential return to his boyhood club FC Barcelona, which could not make the 35-year-old forward a competitive offer under its current financial constraints.

Messi’s two-year, €127.28 million contract with Paris Saint-Germain is due to expire at the end of the month.

Then, he’ll consummate the most consequential move in American soccer history.

“We are pleased that Lionel Messi has stated that he intends to join Inter Miami CF and Major League Soccer this summer,” Major League Soccer said in a statement.  “Although work remains to finalize a formal agreement, we look forward to welcoming one of the greatest soccer players of all time to our League.”

Though we don’t have hard dollar figures at this time, there are a few fascinating details within this titanic Messi Inter Miami deal as reported by The Athletic regarding the big MLS pitch to lure the player to play outside of Europe for the first time in his storied career. Those include the league and Apple offering the player a share of revenues generated by new subscriptions to the MLS Season Pass service on Apple TV, which is in the first year of a 10-year, $2.5 billion global media rights deal. On Tuesday, Apple announced a four-part documentary series on Messi’s five World Cup appearances for Argentina, including the 2022 championship, would stream on Apple TV.

Similarly to MLS and Apple, league jersey and footwear sponsor Adidas would also reportedly share MLS-related profits with Messi as part of the league’s pitch to bring him to the US; Messi has held a lifetime deal with the Three Stripes since 2017.

If all these reported details do indeed come to fruition, it would most closely resemble the MLS deal that brought David Beckham over from Real Madrid to the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007, but orders of magnitude larger. Not for nothing, that moment 16 years ago gave the English legend the option to buy a future MLS club for $25 million, which ultimately became — you guessed it! — Miami.

Inter Miami currently sit in 15th and last place in the MLS Eastern Conference standings and fired head coach Phil Neville last week. To say that Messi is a one-man revolution is a massive understatement both for the team and the league as a whole, bringing the greatest player ever in the world’s most popular sport to South Beach.

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