Lionel Messi has decided to make a stunning move to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami CF following his departure from Paris Saint-Germain, the Argentine superstar announced Wednesday.
Messi made the announcement about his next club in an interview with Spanish publications Mundo Deportivo and Sport.
The 2022 World Cup winner was linked with a return to former club Barcelona as well as a possible move to Saudi Arabia club Al Hilal, but ultimately decided to join co-owner David Beckham's Miami in MLS.
"I have made the decision that I am going to Miami. I still don't have it agreed upon 100% and a few things are needed, but well, we decided to continue my path there," Messi said.
"After winning the World Cup and not being able to return to Barcelona, it was my turn to go to the league of the United States to live football in another way and to enjoy the day to day more. Obvioulsy, with the same responsibility and desire to play well and do things well as always. But in a calmer way."
Sources confirmed to ESPN's Jeff Carlisle that terms include an option for part-ownership of Inter Miami but would not be subsidized by the league as they did for Beckham in 2007. When Beckham moved to the LA Galaxy he was given the option to purchase an MLS team for a discounted price of $25 million.
ESPN also confirmed that a cut of revenue from new subscribers to Apple TV's MLS Season Pass streaming service was part of negotiations. Any agreement involving Messi and Adidas would strictly be between the player and the company, and wouldn't directly involve MLS.
The arrival of Messi, 35, promises to be the biggest signing in the 27-year history of MLS, rivaled only by the signing of Beckham.
His signing will also be a major boost for a Miami team that sits bottom of the Eastern Conference and last week dismissed head coach Phil Neville.
Miami has reportedly held talks with Tata Martino about taking the managerial role there. Martino is a former manager for both Argentina and Barcelona, having worked with Messi on both teams.
Barcelona repeatedly stated its desire for Messi to return to the Catalan club, but sources told ESPN's Jordi Blanco that despite efforts to adjust its payroll in order to make the move work financially, Messi opted not to wait any longer and ruled out his former club as a destination for next season.
"After winning the World Cup and not being able to return to Barcelona, it was my turn to go to the league of the United States to live football in another way and to enjoy the day to day more. Obvioulsy, with the same responsibility and desire to play well and do things well as always. But in a calmer way.
Messi began his career at Barcelona, joining as a 13-year-old youth player and ending as the club's record appearance maker and top goal scorer, as well as winning 10 LaLiga trophies and four Champions League titles.
However, amid a financial crisis, Barca were unable to renew his contract in August 2021, forcing him to leave. He joined PSG on a free transfer later that month.
Alongside Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, he helped PSG to the Ligue 1 title in both seasons he spent in the French capital. However, back-to-back round-of-16 exits from the Champions League meant the club's search for a first European title continues.
He was booed by some fans on numerous occasions during his time in Paris, including on his final match for the club when he bid farewell.
Messi scored 32 goals in 75 games in all competitions for PSG, as well as recording 35 assists.
His stint at PSG came alongside other accomplishments, too. In December, Messi led Argentina to win the 2022 World Cup, ending his wait for the only major honour to have eluded him in his career.
He was then named men's footballer of the year at The Best FIFA Football Awards in February -- his second time winning the award, adding to his record seven Ballon d'Or trophies.