The Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit have formally announced the deal on Saturday, with his public unveiling set to take place on Sunday evening at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The televised event is being called ‘The Unveil’ by the club as they prepare to officially welcome one of the planet’s biggest sporting superstars, who left Paris Saint-Germain this summer after the expiration of his previous lucrative two-year deal in the French capital.
Barcelona icon Messi’s two-and-a-half year contract Stateside is expected to net him somewhere in the region of a cool $150million.
“I’m very excited to start this next step in my career with Inter Miami and in the United States,” said Messi. “This is a fantastic opportunity and together we will continue to build this beautiful project. The idea is to work together to achieve the objectives we set, and I’m very eager to start helping here in my new home.”
After being officially presented as an Inter Miami player on Sunday, Messi, who finally guided Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar over the winter, is expected to make his debut for the club on Friday, when they face Mexico’s Cruz Azul in a home clash in North American Leagues Cup. They resume their 2023 MLS regular season campaign against Charlotte FC on August 21.
“We are overjoyed that the greatest player in the world chose Inter Miami CF and Major League Soccer, and his decision is a testament to the momentum and energy behind our league and our sport in North America,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber.
“We have no doubt that Lionel will show the world that MLS can be a league of choice for the best players in the game. We look forward to seeing his debut for Inter Miami in our Leagues Cup tournament later this month.”
Messi will take a designated player spot at Inter Miami, a rule that allows MLS clubs to sign three players outside the league’s salary cap. The rule was previously nicknamed the ‘Beckham Rule’ after David Beckham’s lucrative move to the Los Angeles Galaxy from Real Madrid back in 2007.
Beckham is a co-owner of Inter Miami, along with American billionaire businessman Jorge Mas, the club’s managing owner, and fellow co-owner Jose Mas.
“10 years ago, when I started my journey to build a new team in Miami, I said that I dreamt of bringing the greatest players in the world to this amazing city,” Beckham said. “Players who shared the ambition I had when I joined LA Galaxy to help grow football in the USA and to build a legacy for the next generation in this sport that we love so much.
“Today that dream came true. I couldn’t be prouder that a player of Leo’s caliber is joining our club, but I am also delighted to welcome a good friend, an amazing person and his beautiful family to join our Inter Miami community. The next phase of our adventure starts here, and I can’t wait to see Leo take to the pitch.”