Messi; When, Where & How Much?

Inter Miami are in a bit of a mess in the Major League Soccer league this season but are their fortunes about to change?

In what could be considered one of the biggest moves by an international football star since Cristiano Ronaldo joining Al-Nassr, Lionel Messi is breaking into the US soccer scene.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or and World Cup winner has joined Inter Miami from Paris Saint Germain on a 2.5 year contract worth between $50 to $60M a year.

His signing couldn’t come at a better time for the ailing Inter Miami.

Ahead of making his debut this Friday, let’s get a run down on what brought us to this point and what Messi’s potential impact could be.

Who’s this Messi guy?

2R1F562 May 14, 2023, Paris, Paris, France: PSG Forward LIONEL MESSI in action during the French championship soccer Ligue 1 Uber Eats between PSG and Ajaccio at Parc des Princes Stadium – Paris France..PSG won 5:0 (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

Good question. For those who don’t follow European soccer like the Champions League or the last World Cup where Argentina won, then this is Lionel Messi.

He’s one of Argentina’s greatest international football exports next to the legend that was Diego Maradona.

At 36 years old, he’s spent the past 19 years playing with two of Europe’s biggest teams; the Spanish La Liga side FC Barcelona and French La Liga team Paris Saint Germain.

FC Barcelona: He scored 474 goals and 191 assists across 519 matches in 17 seasons.

Paris Saint Germain: He scored 22 goals and 30 assists across 58 matches in 2 seasons.

What awards did he win?

There are certainly a few so we’re going to focus on the most important ones.

In Messi’s 17 seasons with FC Barcelona, he helped the team win the La Liga 10 times and finish in the top three in the seasons they didn’t win the trophy.

His two seasons with PSG saw the French side win the La Ligue trophy in both.

Messi is also the recipient of the coveted footballer trophy, the Ballon d’Or. He’s won this award seven times in his career, with a consecutive win from 2009 to 2012, followed by wins in 2015, 2019 and 2021.

2M2J3B7 Lionel MESSI (ARG), action, single image, cropped single motif, portrait, portrait, portrait. Semi-final, semi-final game 61, Argentina (ARG) – Croatia (CRO) 3-0 on December 13th, 2022, Lusail Stadium Football World Cup 20122 in Qatar from November 20th. – 18.12.2022 ?

Probably his most important award was to win the World Cup in 2022. It was the icing on the cake after a very dramatic final against France.

Why did he move?

Now that’s another good question.

Messi’s contract was due to expire with PSG in June 2023, but it appears that both PSG and Messi were already close to breaking up.

Talk about contract negotiations suggested an agreement in principle in November 2022.

But, when the new year rolled around and negotiations restarted in February and March, nothing fruitful was coming and PSG didn’t want to pay the kind of money which Messi felt he deserved.

The Saudi Arabia contract

Aside from an extension on his contract, there was also the row over his decision to travel to Saudi Arabia on a ‘workday’.

PSG’s coaches had told their players that if they won their Ligue 1 game against Lorient, they would get Monday and Tuesday off. If they lost, they would only get Tuesday off.

They lost.

Messi did not report for training on Monday and it’s because he was on his way to Saudi Arabia to uphold his contractual obligation as a ‘tourism ambassador’.

It was viewed by the club as disrespecting them and he was suspended for two weeks.  

Barcelona couldn’t

KHRR6W Piraeus, Greece – October 31, 2017: Player of Barcelona Lionel Messi during the UEFA Champions League game between Olympiacos vs FC Barcelona at Georg

With the messy breakup of Messi and PSG, the Argentinian was entertaining offers from elsewhere. The Saudi club Al Hilai had been one of them, then there was Inter Miami and also Messi’s desired first option, Barcelona.

In a joint press conference for Mundo Deportivo and Sport in early June, Messi told the media that he’d approached his first club about a momentous return.

It wasn’t to be.

It turned out that while discussions had been made between the player and the club, nothing came of it because of financial problems facing Barcelona.

Never discussed money

He insisted that the short-lived dream of returning was not halted because of how much he wanted and rather to do with how Barcelona could afford him.

‘We never even got to a stage of talking about a contract. A proposal was passed over, but never a formal, written, signed proposal, because there was still nothing and we did not know if it was going to be possible or not.

‘There was the intention, but we couldn’t advance anything, we didn’t even talk about money formally. If it had been a matter of money I would have gone to Saudi Arabia or elsewhere.

‘It seemed like a lot of money to me and the truth is that my decision was for the other side and not for money.’

Enter Inter Miami

2R6HEP9 Lionel Messi with the Inter Miami shirt and team’s shield in the background

In that same press conference, Messi announced he was leaving European football and making his way to the US to end his career.

‘Now I will close my career in this country and experiencing the MLS in a different way, enjoying the day-to-day much more – but with the same responsibility of wanting to win and always doing things well but with more peace of mind.’

Messi signed his contract with Inter Miami on July 15th, providing his services to the ailing club for a hefty $50-60M per season for 2.5 years.

Raising the bar

2RD0W97 Fort Lauderdale, USA. 16th July, 2023. Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi is presented as the newest player for Inter Miami CF by owners Jorge Mas, left, Jose Mas and David Beckhman at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. Credit: John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS/Alamy Live News

Certainly, the team’s owners are very positive about the news. Inter Miami’s co-owner and former superstar David Beckham, believed Messi’s arrival ‘raises the bar again’.

‘It has the eyes of the world. Not just Argentina, but the eyes of the world.’

‘He’s at the stage of his career where he’s done everything that any soccer player can do in a sport. He’s one of the greatest players, if not the greatest player, to ever play the game.

‘So he’s still hungry. I’ve seen him on the training pitch. I know he’s still hungry. Sergio [Busquets] is exactly the same. And they’re the type of players that we want to bring to our club.’

The Plight

Messi’s arrival at Inter Miami couldn’t have come at a better time.

It’s been two months since the Herons won a game in the Major League Soccer league. Their last was on May 13th against the New England Revolution.

Since then, they’ve been sat at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with eight losses, three draws and 18 points.

With the Argentine legend joining halfway through the 2023 season, it’s going to be a longshot if Inter Miami are going to rack up the goals and points to reach the Playoffs.

The MLS Cup might be a project for next season but with Messi’s debut on Friday, there’s still hope for the Leagues Cup and the US Open Cup.

Messi Effect

2RCXPJF Fort Lauderdale, United States. 16th July, 2023. Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and World Wide Champion Lionel Messi waves and gives a thumbs up to fans after his welcome to the Inter Miami CF team by team during the unveiling event at the DRV Pink Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Sunday, July 16, 2023. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI. Credit: UPI/Alamy Live News

Will Lionel Messi have an impact on American soccer? That remains to be seen. He’s not the first international player to head stateside.

Some of the sports biggest players like David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Franz Beckenbauer and Pele, finished their careers in the US.

But Inter Miami have sky-high hopes for Messi

How could it impact the team?

2MGWHPJ Inter Miami CF Managing Owner Jorge Mas is interviewed during the Major League Soccer 25th Season kickoff event in New York, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Inter Miami is already anticipating it’s revenues increasing. Speaking to CNBC’s ‘Halftime Report’, the team’s managing owner Jorge Mas said that he expects the team’s revenues to double over the next 12 months.

When the wealth publication Forbes last valued the Inter Miami team, it ranked it as 11th most valuable team in the MLS ($600M), Mas expects that to shoot up to as high as $1.5BN.

No#10 Jersey

Argentina’s captain and forward Lionel Messi celebrates his goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final match between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. Photo by David Niviere/ABACAPRESS.COM

Another area which is highly lucrative… merchandising. Do you remember how popular it was to own a Lionel Messi Argentina jersey?

During the last World Cup, Messi’s #10 jersey literally sold like hot cakes and Adidas was struggling to keep up demand. Popular retail sites were also reporting prices as high as $500 for the strip.

Will this wave of excitement and anticipation be seen with Messi’s #10 Inter Miami jersey?

Ticket Sales

It’s not just jerseys that can help Inter Miami’s mushrooming revenues, it’s also fans using their hard-earned money to watch Messi play.

Now, this is another eye-watering prospect because Inter Miami’s ticket prices have soured as much as 500% since he signed.

According to data collected by TicketIQ, HOME game tickets have risen by 459%. In more detail, that means that the average price of resale Home tickets ranged from $152 to $850.

As for Road (AWAY) games, TicketIQ reports that too has ballooned to as much as 558%. When Inter Miami head to FC Cincinnati, it’s going to cost you on average $830. That’s from as little as $423 for the get in price, to as much as $3440.

But that’s not the most expensive game.

Messi’s Debut

The Leagues Cup game versus Cruz Azul on Friday has lofty prices as high $32,737 to as little as $314. The average list price of a ticket is $1294.

MLS Impact

The MLS Commissioner Don Garber is confident that Messi’s arrival in the top US soccer league was also very timely.

Speaking to the media following Messi’s signing, he said it worked well with the US’ commitment to host upcoming international soccer competitions.

‘Copa America will be here in 2024, Club World Cup will be here in 2025, the World Cup will be here in 2026. This is not a coincidence, right?

‘It’s all part of our continual focus to do everything we can to make our league a league of choice, not just here, but around the world and be part of the conversation.’

Posted on: 20 Jul 2023