Messi Considering Playing in America: The New Growing Trend of Soccer Stars Moving On


It’s becoming a growing trend, stars of the English Premier League who have called Europe their home traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to finish their careers in the United States.

The latest rumors have Lionel Messi, widely regarded as a top footballer still, following that trend, and it is picking up steam in the latest sports news cycle.

Before the calendar turned to 2021 even, Messi had said in a Spanish interview that he “had always had the dream of playing in another league, in the United States.” That could happen as soon as 2023.

A report this week said once Messi’s contract with Paris Saint-Germain was up, the striker would purchase a 35% stake in Inter Miami, estimated at more than $200 million, and then play for the team led by soccer legend David Beckham.

Messi would be the biggest star to go play in Major League Soccer if it happens, and especially for an upstart club. Though Messi’s agent shut it down pretty quickly.

“Leo has not yet decided on his future,” the agent told Le Parisien via TMZ Sports. “And if Leo Messi has crossed paths with David Beckham in the past few hours, it is only part of PSG’s stay in Doha, where the former English midfielder plays a role as an ambassador for the next World Cup in Qatar.”

Messi, Argentina’s captain in international play, spent his entire career with FC Barcelona before they could no longer pay him after LaLiga’s salary cap dropped. He signed a two-year, $35 million deal with Paris Saint-Germain, which expires in 2023.

Beckham’s Transition

A native of England, Beckham set a precedent for the growing MLS league. He became owner of an expansion team which allowed his transfer to the United States, where he played from 2007 to 2012. He scored 18 goals in 98 appearances with the L.A. Galaxy.

The midfielder’s youth career started with Tottenham Hotspur before ending up with Manchester United, ultimately being elevated to the senior squad in 1992. He played with Manchester United until 2003 with 62 goals in 265 appearances. He then went to Real Madrid, scoring 13 goals in 116 appearances from 2003 to 2007 before crossing the pond.

It was rumored Beckham’s deal was for $250 million but that’s all it was. He signed a five-year contract valued at $32.5 million, or $6.5 million per year.

It elevated Major League Soccer and particularly the Galaxy. The club signed a new five-year uniform sponsorship that generated $20 million. Season tickets spiked up to 11,000 new customers and all 42 luxury suites sold out.

Beckahm’s deal included an option to purchase an expansion franchise, which he did in 2014. Inter Miami came into existence thanks to a $25 million option picked up by Beckham.

Rooney’s Rule

Wayne Rooney was also a star for Manchester United before he crossed the Atlantic Ocean to finish his career in the United States. It was another recognizable name for even the casual soccer fans. Anybody who would watch the World Cup, a sense of great pride for Americans, would know who Rooney is.

Rooney played for DC United from 2018 to 2020, appearing in 48 fixtures and scoring 23 goals. The striker was wrapping up a career that spanned 19 years at the senior level.

He got his start at Everton, scoring 15 goals in 67 matches. He then joined Manchester United in 2004, scoring 183 goals in 393 matches until 2017, when he joined Everton for 10 goals in 31 appearances.

Rooney now manages Derby County, and it is unclear if he was given the same offer to own an expansion team.

America’s Growth

Slowly but surely America is building on a passionate fan base of soccer supporters. If Messi were to join Inter Miami, even at age 35 or 36, it would do wonders for the sport in terms of fans in person and especially television revenue and additional advertising sponsors.

It could really help a league that has seen success expanding into new markets, even saturated ones like New York, which beat Portland for the MLS Cup last season.


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