Lionel Messi Completes Transfer to Inter Miami, Set to Make MLS Debut in Leagues Cup Opener against Cruz Azul

Lionel Messi has officially completed his transfer to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami, signing a contract for two-and-a-half seasons with an option to extend for another year in the 2026 season. The club confirmed his arrival after the deal was ratified by MLS, and Messi will be unveiled to fans at an event on Sunday. Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham expressed his excitement about Messi joining the team, saying he had dreamt of bringing a player of Messi’s caliber to the club. MLS commissioner Don Garber also praised the signing, stating that Messi’s decision is a testament to the league’s momentum and energy.

In a statement, Messi said he is thrilled to begin this next step in his career with Inter Miami and in the United States. He views it as a fantastic opportunity and is eager to help build the project at his new home. The 36-year-old forward added that he is looking forward to working with former boss Tata Martino, who was appointed as Inter Miami’s head coach in June.

Messi’s move to Inter Miami comes after his departure from Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season. Barcelona, the club he departed in 2021, had expressed interest in re-signing him, as did Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal. However, Inter Miami remained confident in their pursuit of Messi and were able to secure the signing.

The MLS transfer window opened on July 5, and Messi is expected to make his debut for Inter Miami on July 21 against Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup. Tickets for the game have already sold out. It is likely that Messi will wear the No. 10 shirt, which has been kept vacant by the club in anticipation of his arrival. The move to MLS is a significant one, as the United States gears up to host the 2026 World Cup.

Negotiations for Messi’s contract were complex due to MLS’s single-entity structure. To ensure that he wasn’t tempted to join Saudi Arabia, his contract includes the option to purchase an equity stake in Inter Miami. The deal also involves discussions with Apple regarding revenue share on new subscriptions for the MLS Season Pass service. Furthermore, Messi will earn around $50-60 million annually, including the value of his equity in the club. He will also receive additional income through MLS partners, including Adidas and Fanatics.

Overall, Messi’s move to Inter Miami is seen as a positive development for both the player and the league. Apple and MLS signed a $2.5 billion agreement earlier this year, and Messi’s presence will contribute to the league’s growth and visibility.