The World Cup champion declined to earn a reported $1.6 billion offer by Saudi Arabia as La Liga’s financial rules foiled a return to Barcelona.
Former Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi confirmed his decision to join MLS side Inter Miami, snubbing Barcelona and Saudi Arabia’s lucrative Al-Hilal contract.
“I made the decision that I’m going to go to Miami,” Messi said in an interview with Mundo Deportivo and Sport newspapers on Wednesday.
“I still haven’t closed it 100 percent. I’m still missing a few things, but we decided to go ahead. If Barcelona didn’t work out, I wanted to leave Europe, get out of the spotlight and think more about my family,” the seven-time Ballon d’Or award winner added.
After months of speculation, the 35-year-old’s move stunned football fans as Inter Miami appeared a more diminutive option for the footballer who reached the game’s absolute mountaintop.
The decision for Messi to join brothers Jorge and Jose Mas along with famed David Beckham in Miami comes after a thrilling yet exhausting 15-year career run.
“Obviously with the same responsibility and desire to want to win and to always do things well. But with more peace of mind,” the 806 goalscorer voiced in his groundbreaking interview.
The United States stage not only recreates a more relaxed climate for Messi but also an adequate financial incentive.
The financial details of Messi’s Inter Miami contract have not been released. Still, he reportedly will be given an ownership stake along with a cut of the revenue from Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass, which promotes the league’s games, and will be able to maximise his existing sponsorship deal with Adidas.
Known as one of the world’s most recognisable footballers and athletes, Messi’s move to MLS is expected to drive up viewers as the US kicks up to host the 2026 World Cup.
The MLS earns a bland fee of around $250 million per year from Apple until it runs a specific brink of subscriptions from viewers. After that, it will make a share of the revenue from those subscriptions.
It was widely believed that Messi would eventually choose to play for Al-Hilal, following the footsteps of longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Barcelona-based reporter Helena Condis stated on Wednesday that Al-Hilal made one last contract offer to Messi’s camp worth $1.6 billion over three years.
However, for Messi, money wasn’t a motivator.
“If it had been a matter of money, I’d have gone to Arabia or elsewhere. It seemed like a lot of money to me,” he told Mundo Deportivo.
“The truth is that my final decision goes elsewhere and not because of money,” Messi voiced.
“I really wanted to return to Barça, I had that dream. But after what happened two years ago, I did not want to be in the same situation again, leaving my future in the hands of someone else.”
“I wanted to take my own decision, thinking of me and my family.”