Lionel Messi is taking a well-earned rest in Miami, Florida after winning Copa América with Argentina. But is there more to this summer vacation than meets the eye? That’s the question being asked in papers across Europe, with the rumor in mind that he will join MLS side Inter Miami - not this year, but not too far off in the future.
Reports had said that Messi has already agreed to join the club co-owned by David Beckham after playing two more years at FC Barcelona, although more recent reports point to a five-year contract with the Catalans. He’d be 39 at the end of that contract, if it is signed. The #10 is at the moment still a free agent, although Catalan media says it’s only a matter of time before he signs a new deal.
Jorge Mas, another of Inter Miami’s co-owners, has publicly spoken about the ambition to bring the world’s best player to the US.
“I am optimistic Messi will play in an Inter Miami shirt because I think it will complete the legacy of the greatest player in our generation and will meet with the ambitions of the owners of Inter Miami to build a world-class team,” he once said.
Messi was rumored to be in the crowd for Inter Miami’s game against the New England Revolution last night, although there is as of yet no solid evidence he did in fact turn up. Gonzalo Higuaín, Messi’s former Argentina strike partner and Inter Miami’s star signing, was booed off as he was substituted with an injury in his team’s 5-0 loss. One wonders if it was better for Inter Miami if Messi did not attend.
Outwardly, Messi’s visit to the area has looked like a comparatively normal vacation. Social media pictures have shown him sunbathing, visiting the Hard Rock Cafe with his family, greeting fans, and sending photo greetings to a Miami Marlins baseball prospect.
Still, Messi’s choice of destination could be telling. Some whispers have said he has already bought a million dollar house in Miami. Add that to the reports and public statements, and the sense is that there’s a high likelihood that this will be Messi’s eventual home. When he would move to MLS is harder to say.
The other question is whether Inter Miami - dead last in MLS with eight points after 12 matches - will be ready to have such a talent in the squad, even with a few years to build.