With all the excitement surrounding Messi’s “decision,” the funny thing is that he’s been signaling the move right out in the open for years.
David Beckham’s master plan for Inter Miami always had Messi at the epicenter.
The city has been a preferred vacation destination for the Argentinian and his family, highlighted by the purchase of a $9 million home in 2021.
With Cristiano Ronaldo chasing petro dollars in Saudi Arabia, followed by Karim Benzema and a bevy of other superstars this summer, it seemed that Messi would follow the herd.
What a silly thought. This is a GOAT that leads.
Make no mistake about it, money was a big factor in deciding to come to the United States. But it was about more than a big check, it was about gaining power and influence that will last well beyond his playing days.
The reticent Messi is also famously a family man. No doubt it was critical for him that Antonela, Thiago, Matteo, Ciro, and even the big fluffy Hulk, be happy and comfortable along their journey of life together.
Saudi Arabia was never a realistic possibility.
But considering it, along with the option of returning to Barcelona, gave Messi even more leverage over the proceedings.
MLS was certainly desperate to bring the greatest player of all time to America.
The league is in a strange place. On the one hand, it is growing in popularity, attendance is high especially in the expansion markets, and there’s a sense of so much untapped potential for development amongst casual fans who need a reason to watch the games on TV.
With the new Apple TV deal, which is off to a slow start with the company virtually giving away the package for free to generate interest, it was imperative to make a big move and bring in some star power.
A cut of the revenue from Apple, a significant endorsement deal from Adidas, and the promise of future ownership in an MLS franchise, and all of a sudden you have a very attractive offer. One that the family most certainly voted for, and the family’s vote counts for everything.
And yet, as a city, Barcelona will always be the first home for the Messi clan.
So why couldn’t Barca make a return happen?
This move was always about respect, and Messi standing up for himself, especially against those who have done him wrong.
Messi just played Joan Laporta, with whom you have to imagine the hard feelings live on, after the unbecoming way the Blaugrana legend was shown the door.
What Laporta did was good for the club, but it was cut throat.
Combine that with the fact that Messi has spent the last six months getting booed by fans of PSG.
It was time for him to go where he felt wanted and special, and where he had the power.
David Beckham has been courting him for years.
The people of Miami love him already, and will treat him like the king of the city.
And now, he isn’t just a great player on a contract like everyone else.
He has a stake in his own future.
Barcelona can put out a condescending statement about how Messi just can’t stand the pressure of playing in a top league anymore, but the truth is, Messi has nothing left to prove after winning the World Cup in Qatar.
This is about life after football.
A life that prioritizes his family first and foremost.
A life that promises opportunities beyond being a player on the field.
One day, Messi will come home to Barcelona for a proper send off. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens once Joan Laporta’s tenure is over. Likely, Messi will come home to live and spend most of his days in the beautiful Mediterranean city that gave him the chance of a lifetime.
For Barcelona, this is probably for the best. The news of Messi coming home was a distraction, and it was never in the sporting interest of the team for the upcoming campaign. Xavi could never say it publicly, but I imagine that even he is relieved with the outcome.
But as a Messi fan, I’m happy he took control of his destiny.
I admire that he put the interest of his family above all else.
As an American, I can’t wait to see the influence that the Barca legend will have in one of the biggest markets in the world. Ahead of the 2026 World Cup in North America nonetheless.
You kept your cards close to the chest, but you knew all along that you would put yourself, and the people you love the most, first.
Time to show the Americans why football is the best sport in the world, and why you are the best to ever play the game.
It’s also nice to know that I’ll finally get some use out of my Apple TV membership.