Inter Miami has officially announced the free transfer of seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.
The 36-year-old’s move to MLS was revealed by the player himself last month, just before his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expired.
Inter Miami, on the other hand, has only just officially introduced the renowned number 10 as their new player, with the news coming just hours before their match versus St Louis City this evening.
Barcelona have been courting Messi for a mega-return to Camp Nou, where he spent 21 years and established himself as one of the best players of all time.
The World Cup winner instead chose to end his time in Europe and move to MLS, where he will link up with the David Beckham-owned Miami franchise.
Messi’s contract in Miami is understood to be a unique one in the world of football which will see him earn a share of profits from Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass and Adidas’ kit sales for Inter Miami.
The Argentina international reportedly turned down an even more lucrative offer from the Saudi Pro League, which would have seen him feature in direct competition with perennial career rival Cristiano Ronaldo once again.
Messi is expected to make his debut for his new side when they take on Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup on July 21.
Messi will have work to do if he is to add to his significant trophy cabinet this season, as he joins an Inter Miami side rooted to the bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference after 21 games of their 2023 campaign.
Miami have won just five and lost a league-high 13 games so far this season, while they are winless in their last 10 MLS matches ahead of their trip to St Louis on Saturday night, picking up only three points from a possible 30 in that time.
The Florida outfit brought in former Barcelona and Argentina boss Gerardo Martino, who has previously worked with Messi at club and international level, in an attempt to stop the rot after sacking Phil Neville last month.
The Argentine immediately halted a run of seven consecutive defeats, but is still searching for his first win having so far overseen three successive draws.
Europe’s record club goalscorer had been a free agent since ending his two-year stay at PSG at the end of last month, with the French giants choosing not to renew his contract amid mounting fan unrest at their lack of European success.
Messi helped PSG to the Ligue 1 title in both of his seasons at the club, but the attacking triumvirate of him, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe failed to land a first Champions League crown for the club.
Even so, Messi’s star showing at last winter’s World Cup in Qatar is expected to make him one of the front-runners to win a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or this year, with no other player in football history having won more than five.
Messi has continued his fine international form into this year too, becoming only the third male player in history to pass 100 goals for their country.
Now on 103 goals for Argentina, Messi has 807 senior career goals in total having netted a record 672 times in 778 games for Barcelona, in addition to 32 in 75 outings for PSG.
The forward also has more assists than any other player in recorded history, setting up more than 300 goals for teammates to move past 1,000 goal involvements at club level alone.
Messi’s arrival in the United States makes him the highest-profile player in MLS history, though he is not the league’s first big name, having joined alongside David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney, Gareth Bale, Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, David Villa, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Didier Drogba, and Frank Lampard.
Prior to the MLS era, Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, George Best, and Bobby Moore all played in the NASL in America.
Messi is anticipated to be joined at Inter Miami by a number of former colleagues, with Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba on the verge of confirmation, with Sergio Ramos also said to be on their radar.