Lionel Messi set for Inter Miami switch
Lionel Messi’s arrival in Major League Soccer has quickly become one of the most hotly-anticipated transfers in world football. But the Argentina legend will have his work cut out to enjoy the levels of success he is used to this season. The 35-year-old agreed to join David Beckham’s Inter Miami this week after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain was allowed to expire at the end of the Ligue 1 season.
Messi turned down a lucrative offer to move to Saudi Arabia and could not agree on a feasible return to his boyhood club Barcelona, paving the way to a new adventure in the MLS.
The all-time football great could be set to make his Inter Miami debut on July 21 against Mexican side Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup, but when he arrives in Florida he will have quite a job on his hands, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by Sergio Aguero.
Although Miami has reached the US Open Cup semifinals, their league form is a different story. The struggling outfit is currently bottom of the Eastern Conference after 16 matches, with just five wins all season.
Messi’s former international teammate Aguero recognised the tall order facing his friend and told ESPN Argentina: “I spoke to Messi yesterday, I sent him a message with a screenshot of the Eastern Conference standings and I said: ‘Your team is behind! You have to move up to 8th/9th!’
“Messi cracked up. He said, ‘We have to make the playoffs!'”
The new system in the MLS sees the top seven teams in each conference qualify automatically for the playoffs, while the eighth and ninth-placed teams must slug it out in a wild-card game.
Miami is currently six points adrift of Charlotte FC, who occupy ninth place in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand.
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Assuming Messi’s contract is signed and sealed without delay, he will have 12 matches after the Leagues Cup encounter to try and reverse the club’s fortunes. Aguero has also stated that he expects Messi to arrive in the US “mid-July”.
The MLS has already released a statement welcoming the expected arrival in their league of one of the game’s true all-time greats.
It read: “We are pleased that Lionel Messi has stated that he intends to join Inter Miami CF and Major League Soccer this summer. Although work remains to finalize a formal agreement, we look forward to welcoming one of the greatest soccer players of all time to our League.”
Following the announcement of Messi, Inter Miami has already been linked with a number of former Barcelona stars including Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez.
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