Will Messi Make Miami’s Dream Come True?
Lionel Messi looking satisfied at the end of his first game with Paris St. Germain, after having played for Barcelona since 2000, August 21, 2021, Reims, France

Lionel Messi is without a doubt the biggest addition to the Inter Miami FC lineup. But is he what the young American club needs to achieve their dreams of huge Major League Soccer success?

Moving to the Stateside

After much fuss and a huge offer from Saudi Arabia and Barcelona FC’s failure to make an offer to win him back, Messi left for the first time in his career and moved to the United States to play for the David Beckham-co-owned Inter Miami.

It was a massive moment both for Miami and Messi. In an interview, Beckham called it an emotional moment saying:

“The moment that Leo went on TV and announced … that he was coming to Miami, that was an emotional moment,” Beckham said.

His contract with Miami will see him with the club through to 2025.

Miami’s Dream

Beckham for his part was one of the first big stars of European football to move to the United States. In the last years of his career, the Brit moved to the US to play for LA Galaxy.

In 2018, he became an integral figure in the founding of the Florida club. They did not get any additional international attention until they signed Messi in July 2023.

Miami has big dreams, and as Beckham put it, one of those dreams is signing the greatest players out there.

“Our dream with this club was always to bring the greatest players in. As owners, I think the owners of a sports team, you always want to bring in the greatest players,” he said.

“Does it always happen? No. For us, it’s happened … We always felt that it was possible, but when we started the conversations, obviously, Leo was under contract and playing for another team, so, again, we had to be patient. But I think at the end of the day, patience is what we’ve needed through this whole process.”

It’s a dream they’ve had to pay highly for as well. As per co-owner Jorge Mass’ comments, Messi will likely be getting US$60 Million a year for the time he’s there, and that not only includes his salary but an owning stake in the club, and his signing bonus.

In addition to signing great talent, Miami is also wanting to rise in the ranks in the local US soccer scene.

With Messi on board, the club quickly won their first major trophy – the 2023 Leagues Cup.

This win helped Miami show that they had done well in investing in the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner who has now set his sights on winning the US Open Cup.

Setting Sights on the US Open Cup

Messi did not have much domestic success when he played for Paris St-Germain but that was a strained relationship towards the end, to say the least, and it may have affected his performance.

There does seem to be less interpersonal strain with Miami and it may lead to bigger domestic success for Messi. Next on the checklist for Inter Miami and Messi is the US Cup Open.

He has already helped the team reach the Finals for the first time after they defeated FC Cincinnati. The finals will play out on September 27.

The US Open Cup is the oldest in America and it is worth winning. He may not be the first Ballon d’Or winner to play for it but should he win, he will be the second one to do so.

For many, the US Open Cup is the only true national championship in US soccer. It plays all teams including those in the semi-pro and amateur stages at the qualifiers. It is also solely exclusive to US teams, unlike the MLS which includes teams from Canada.

It doesn’t get more historic than the US Open Cup in American soccer. If Messi is going to go down in US soccer history, he should bag the US Open Cup.

Can He Deliver?

Messi is a very talented footballer. He is even in the running to win his eighth Ballon d’Or award following the announcement of the 2023 nominations.

Can he deliver the US Open Cup to his fellow men in pink?

The odds say he absolutely can.

Also, he may be the biggest name in the Miami lineup at the moment but he is not carrying the club on his back alone. There’s Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets to help pick up any slack.

Injury Fears

There may be a hurdle to his leading Inter Miami to a historic US Open win though as he may be injured and unable to play.

Speculations that the World Cup winner is out of commission were sparked when Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni had Messi replaced in the 89th minute during a 2026 World Cup qualifying match.

Scaloni later said that Messi was “feeling something”.

For his part, Messi did not clarify the substitution, instead saying that he needs to get used to having some time to rest.

“I was a little tired, so it happened that I went out and surely it won’t be the last time I go out during matches,” he said to Telemundo.

It is, however, very unusual for Messi to be substituted or replaced, hence the worry.

Should he be fit to play, he is expected to appear for Argentina in their match against Bolivia on Tuesday.

Inter Miami is expecting to have him back by September 16.

Messi is formidable and if he is injury-free, he has every chance to help Inter Miami go the distance. This includes winning the US Open Cup and maybe even a place in the playoffs for the MLS Eastern Conference.

Whatever the outcomes may be, what’s clear is that Messi has already done a lot of Miami in the short time he’s been with them. He’s still got a long way to go before his contract runs out and he’s not showing any signs of slowing down.

We believe that Inter Miami’s future is bright with Messi in their ranks.

Maree cartujano
Sports Pundit staff writer
Sports writer and editor....

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