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Messi will light up Miami

Sports 26 Jun, 2023 Follow News

Lionel Messi will be a big hit in Miami

Inter Miami fans have a big reason to be excited

Lionel Messi insists he has nothing left to achieve in football as he prepares to join Inter Miami.

The Argentine has had one of the sport’s most successful careers, winning almost every big trophy on offer - including the World Cup in December. He finally lifted the trophy in Qatar when Argentina beat France in a pulsating 3-3 final in Doha, winning on penalties.

It adds to an already hefty trophy cabinet that contains La Liga, Ligue 1 and Champions League titles. And that also includes seven Ballon d’Or accolades - while he is the favourite to go win an eighth this year.

But since leaving Paris Saint-Germain recently and agreeing a deal with Inter Miami, he might have left his new club annoyed by his latest comments. Messi turns 36 on Saturday. He admitted that he felt he had nothing left to achieve in football having ultimately won the lot.

He said: “Does the Ballon d’Or matter to me? No, it’s no longer important to me. I’ve always said; the individual prizes are not what matters to me.

“The collective ones are the most important. The most important prize at the moment is the World Cup, the greatest prize for me was my last World Cup. I will see how things go, but in principle, no, I will not go to the next World Cup. I have achieved everything in football. There is nothing left.”

Messi has never played out of Europe at club level having spent most of his career at Barcelona before two years with PSG.

It means that there are plenty of trophies up for grabs at Inter Miami. There is the MLS Cup, which goes to the league’s outright champions at the end of their playoffs.

However, Inter Miami are currently bottom of their particular division while Phil Neville was recently sacked as a result.

And on the continent, there is the CONCACAF Champions Cup available - though American sides have not fared well in the competition and have won it just once, through the Seattle Sounders last year.

Messi, who turns 36 on Saturday, will be feted everywhere he goes.

Inter Miami’s managing owner Jorge Mas expects his first game to be on July 21. He called Messi’s arrival a “seminal moment” for the sport in the US. “I cannot overemphasise the magnitude of this announcement.”

With the player’s first game still weeks away, glimpses of Messi-mania are already starting to appear in the city.

Earlier this month, a mural depicting him in Inter Miami’s bright pink shirt popped up in Miami’s vibrant Wynwood neighbourhood.

Local media outlets have been constantly discussing the player’s move – along with other possible additions to the squad, including several ex-Barcelona teammates of Messi, namely Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez.

The Spanish-speaking players certainly would not face a language barrier in South Florida – home to large immigrant communities from the Caribbean and South America. In fact, Spanish speakers make up 70% of the city’s population.

Even the club’s slogan is in Spanish: Libertad. Unidad. Fortuna. (Liberty. Unity. Fortune.)

Mas – along with businessman Jose Mas and retired English star David Beckham – set up Inter Miami in 2018, pledging to pursue a “global vision” that prioritises the local community. Many supporters are confident that Messi will help turn it all around for the locals.

That pledge may be tested with Messi’s arrival. Inter Miami’s home game tickets that used to go for less than $50 are now in the hundreds of dollars – if they can be found at all.

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