When it comes to Lionel Messi, it is hard to think of him as a player for any team other than Argentina or FC Barcelona. Manchester City tried numerous times to sign him, but could never convert any of their chances. Paris Saint-Germain eventually did nab him, in the summer of 2021, but his time in the French capital is set to end next summer.
What’s next- a return to the Catalan club or re-upping with PSG? Neither, as Messi is moving to MLS next summer.
It won’t be the Major League Soccer club with the same corporate parents as Man City, New York City FC. According to The Times of London, the destination is Inter Miami CF, David Beckham’s club.
When Messi moves over, which is set to be the summer of 2023, the club will only be in its fourth year of existence. The Times report says that Messi will become the highest paid player in MLS history.
Back on November 2, on a media Zoom call, Chicago Fire and Switzerland midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri was asked about the potential impact Messi could have on MLS.
“You can see now the MLS is growing more and more,” the former Liverpool and Bayern Munich star said.
“And more good players coming from Europe to the MLS. And the league is getting better with these kind of players.”
Lionel Messi coming across the pond would reinforce the tired and now very outdated “MLS as a retirement league” narrative. While this move would fit that motif, overall, it’s a fallacy, as Shaq pointed out.
“The teams are investing in younger players now,” Shaqiri continued.
“It’s not like before, okay, at 35, 36, the old players coming now and to make holidays in America. Now it’s changed so the good players are coming now, and they are coming in their prime and trying to achieve something there, too.
This is a good step also for the league and for the country, and yeah, I’m really looking forward to more and more players coming to the league and to make teams better, the league better. It’s also more interesting and [more] competition for everybody.
And with this World Cup being the last for both Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Shaqiri was asked by a reporter to weigh in on The GOAT debate.
“This is always a good question for everybody,” Shaq said about the timeless question of ‘Messi versus Ronaldo?’
“I think these two guys, what they did for football in the last 20 years is unbelievable. I don’t know if somebody is going to come again like these two. This is something extraordinary that you maybe never see.
“For me they are both very good and the best with of course Maradona and Pelé, I think the same level like them.”
On a side not, Messi, currently with Argentina, competing at the 2022 World Cup, has already said that this will be his final international tournament.
Paul M. Banks is the Owner/Manager of The Sports Bank and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”