Report: Football Legend Lionel Messi Chooses Inter Miami Over Barcelona, Saudi Arabia

Following months of speculation, soccer superstar Lionel Messi has reportedly decided to take his talents to South Florida.

As reported in a BBC article by veteran Spanish journalist Guillem Balagué, the Argentinian soccer player has officially agreed to sign with Major League Soccer (MLS) team Inter Miami — snubbing a lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia and passing on a chance to return to Barcelona, where he spent the first decade and a half of his career.

“Messi was ultimately tempted to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami for a variety of reasons, including lifestyle and a deal with big brands that extends beyond football,” writes Balagué, who authored a 2013 biography on Messi.

News of Messi’s reported decision — a bombshell for the soccer world, which has eagerly awaited his choice — comes on the heels of his recent World Cup win with Argentina.

Messi is a 10-time winner of the Spanish league La Liga title, a four-time winner of the UEFA Champions League, and has won both the 2021 Copa América and the 2008 Olympics with Argentina.

As noted by Balagué, this would be the first time Messi has played in a full-season league outside Europe.

The 35-year-old soccer legend had a host of destination options.

There was Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal, which reportedly offered him a yearly salary of more than $425 million, plus commercial deals, for a two-season stay. FC Barcelona, the team where he spent his burgeoning years and wowed adoring crowds of fans, was also an option, but the team reportedly planned to offer $27 million in salary, a paltry sum in comparison.

In 2021, after years of financial woes, FC Barcelona was forced to let Messi go. He spent the next two years with France’s Paris Saint-Germain, which he left this month.

According to Balagué, Inter Miami has swooped in with an offer Messi couldn’t refuse — one that involves collaborations with Apple and Adidas on commercial deals to “make his brand even bigger.” Apple owns the worldwide broadcasting rights for MLS, while Adidas is MLS’s exclusive jersey supplier.

MLS and Apple have been in discussions about giving Messi part of the revenue from subscriptions to Apple’s MLS Season Pass package, according to the Athletic. Apple also recently struck a deal with the player to launch a four-part documentary on his career.

If Messi does make his way to Miami, he already has a place to crash. As reported by the Real Deal, he owns a $5 million condo in Sunny Isles Beach, which he has previously rented out.

Inter Miami’s planned new stadium at the site of the old Melreese golf course is under development. The team, co-owned in part by David Beckham and MasTec construction heir Jorge Mas, is currently playing out of DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

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