Lionel Messi, the renowned soccer player, is preparing to make his debut for Inter Miami on July 21. The team, which belongs to Major League Soccer, will be hosting Mexico’s Cruz Azul in their first match of the Leagues Cup. Jorge Mas, the managing owner of Inter Miami, revealed this information to the Miami Herald newspaper on Tuesday.
Messi and Miami have reached an agreement on the terms of his contract and are currently finalizing the necessary paperwork and visas. This follows Messi’s recent announcement of his intention to join the club.
According to the Miami Herald, the 35-year-old Argentine will sign a two-and-a-half-year deal with an annual salary between $50 million and $60 million. The contract also includes an option to extend until 2026.
Mas emphasized that there will be no changes to the roster rules or categories to accommodate Messi’s arrival. He also expressed his belief that having the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner on the team will greatly benefit soccer in the United States, where the sport’s popularity lags behind the other major professional leagues.
For Mas, Messi’s arrival marks a pivotal moment in the history of U.S. soccer, as Major League Soccer aspires to become one of the world’s top leagues. He stated, “When we talk about the sport in the United States, there will always be a distinction between before and after Messi.”
Mas further added, “I firmly believe that we can establish one of the top two leagues in the world in North America and the United States, if not the greatest league. Lionel Messi is coming to this country to win trophies and make a significant impact. It is our responsibility as league owners to seize this moment.”
The news of Messi’s arrival in Miami had an immediate impact, with ticket prices skyrocketing by 1,034% within hours. Additionally, the team’s Instagram account saw a surge in followers, jumping from one million to eight million.
Currently, Inter Miami sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, trailing by seven points from the ninth-place position, which would grant them a chance to qualify for the playoffs.
The Leagues Cup is an annual tournament that features clubs from both Major League Soccer and Mexico’s Liga MX.