Lionel Messi reportedly will head to Major League Soccer club Inter Miami this summer.
Messi, who turns 36 on June 24, chose not to re-sign with Paris Saint-Germain and was free to sign with any club of his choosing. Multiple reports narrowed down his options to three choices: Inter Miami, Barcelona or the Saudi Pro League.
He decided to sign with Inter Miami when the summer transfer window opens in July, according to CBS Sports’ Guillem Balague on Wednesday. The reported decision comes after a Messi docuseries on Apple TV+ was greenlit Tuesday, according to Deadline.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup winner had been part of the Barcelona organization for over 20 years before leaving for PSG in 2021, but fans had hoped he would return to the La Liga club. Messi’s father told reporters Monday that his son “would like to return” to Barcelona, per the Associated Press’ Tales Azzoni. It could have been a storybook ending for Messi’s career.
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Al-Hilal offered Messi a contract that would have paid him €400 million a year, according to Fabrizio Romano. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund bought the top four clubs in the Saudi Pro League: Al Ahli, Al Ittihad, Al Hilal and Al Nassr. Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for Al Nassr, and Karim Benzema, who signed with Al-Ittihad this week, signed deals that pay them up to $200 million a year. If the Argentinian joined the Saudi Pro League, it would have further increased the profile of the league and the influence of the PIF.
Messi was suspended by PSG last month after he made an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia, and Inter Miami owner David Beckham visited the Ligue 1 club in April, which further increased speculation on a move to MLS.
The latter won the race to sign arguably the best soccer player in the world, and he will join a side that fired manager Phil Neville on June 1. Inter Miami is in the bottom of the Eastern Conference, as of Wednesday, with 15 points and a 5-11 record.
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