Although Major League Soccer, Inter Miami, and their partners are said to be putting together a financial package that would make it tough for Lionel Messi to leave FC Barcelona, the Spanish powerhouse is pushing hard for him to return.
The Herald has been reporting for months that Apple, which last year signed a 10-year $2.5 billion broadcast deal with the league, as well as Major League Soccer (MLS), which could provide team ownership incentives as it did with David Beckham in 2007, would likely sweeten Inter Miami’s offer to sign Messi this summer.
In a piece posted late Tuesday night, The Athletic stated that the MLS offer to Messi includes income and profit-sharing agreements with Apple and Adidas and would “likely include” the chance to own a portion of an MLS franchise following his completion of his playing career.
The Athletic reported earlier this week that “multiple sources involved in or briefed on the high-level league discussions said MLS and Apple have discussed offering Messi a share of the revenue created by new subscribers to the MLS Season Pass, the league’s streaming package.”
One of Major League Soccer’s top corporate sponsors, Adidas, “has created its own prospective deal to attract Messi to the United States. A revenue sharing contract could result in the player obtaining a cut of any increase in Adidas’ profits resulting from his involvement in MLS.”
Messi, who has won the Ballon d’Or seven times as the finest player in the world, has been courted by Inter Miami and is also considering possibilities in Europe and the Middle East. The 2022–23 season will be his last one at Paris Saint-Germain; his contract with the French club expires on June 30.
An emotional transfer back to Barcelona, where he spent more than 20 years after joining at the age of 13, a reputed $500 million contract with Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal, and a move to Major League Soccer to play for Inter Miami are among the options Messi is considering.
Inter Miami and Barcelona are the two finalists, with the Saudi agreement taking a back seat, according to The Athletic. Late Tuesday night, a league source informed the Herald that Messi hasn’t made up his mind and is still considering the offers.
The notion of playing in the United States and enjoying the Miami lifestyle with his family appeals to Messi, who has a holiday house there and regularly travels there.
Since the start of the season, the club has been preparing for the prospective summer arrival of Messi and his former FC Barcelona colleague Sergio Busquets (whose contract also ends June 30). Messi has been in discussions with Inter Miami co-owners Beckham and Miami siblings Jose and Jorge Mas. The club set aside Messi’s and Busquets’ respective jersey numbers, 10, and 5.
The team, which plays at the 18,000-seat DRV PNK Stadium, has halted single-game home ticket sales until after July 1. Tickets are only available for the match versus Austin FC on July 1.
If a supporter attempts to purchase a ticket via the club website or Ticketmaster for a future game, it displays “In the works. Review again!” During the season, tickets are available for other teams.
MLS commissioner Don Garber said that the league was making every effort to help Miami get the contract.
The MLS offered English legend David Beckham a five-year, $32 million contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy that included the opportunity for him to purchase an MLS team for a much-reduced price of $25 million, which he accomplished when he founded Inter Miami in 2014. Given that the average MLS club will be worth over $500 million by 2023, it turned out to be a tremendously successful investment.
When questioned about the Messi-to-Inter Miami negotiations by CBS News at a meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors in late April, Garber responded as follows:
“We will work very hard with Miami, the team that is hoping to be able to sign him, to develop a plan for him that will enable him to create a legacy that I think could be unprecedented globally, let alone unprecedented here in our nation, because I think of him as an individual who crosses numerous obstacles so that he can be more significant than any athlete of any sport that has ever participated here in the United States.
“We’ve done a good job of developing innovative strategies to recruit players for our teams in the appropriate market. It’s happening extremely quickly, so I’m hoping we can lead the conversation and eventually bring something to fruition.
In the years leading up to the 2026 World Cup, which would be co-hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada, it would also be a massive boost for American soccer.
Messi’s initial preference, according to Spanish and Argentine media, was to go back to Barcelona, and the officials of the Spanish club have made it clear they want him back. However, Barca is struggling financially.
The Argentine superstar might be signed by Miami and then loaned to Barcelona for a period of six to 18 months, according to a report published last week in the French sports weekly L’Equipe.
Messi’s signing is complicated due to the Catalan giant’s financial position and severe budgetary restrictions, but the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has given his former team time to work on it, according to L’Equipe.
“The latter has already finalised significant savings (wage cuts, Jordi Alba’s contract expiration, and Sergio Busquets’ non-extension), but they are still far off the mark and are looking at plans B.”
Cooperation with Inter Miami would be one of those options.”This could enable him to carry on playing at the greatest level in Europe until the Copa America 2024, and then come to grips with the club of his life before travelling to learn about MLS,” the L’Equipe article said.
Six teams from CONCACAF (North and Central America and the Caribbean) will participate in the Copa America, a prominent South American competition, which will take place in the United States in 2024. It will serve as a trial run for the U.S. host cities of the 2026 World Cup, which include Miami.