The 40-second video is opened by a hooded graffiti artist in an empty football stadium. He is dressed from head to toe in Adidas, which, in addition to being the sports brand that rappers RUN-DMC sang about in the eighties, is the sponsor of Inter Miami and its new shining star. The type bombards with his spray a black surface with the club’s characteristic pink and, oh surprise, it paints “Messi”. The aforementioned, Argentine soccer star, seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, emerges from the shadows, and says: “Yes, guys, see you in Miami.”
So yes, guys, it’s official: in case anyone on the face of the football planet hadn’t heard yet, Lionel Messi, a 36-year-old striker and recent world champion, has signed for the soccer team of a city with the that his name will melt from this Sunday, the day of the coming-out of the marriage. They even share the number of letters, five and, in the video broadcast on Saturday, the typography of the M characteristic of the club.
With the contract closed, everything is ready to receive the player in Fort Lauderdale, a vacation city 40 kilometers north of Miami where, not for long, the team’s stadium is located, while the new one is being completed. Messi landed in South Florida on Tuesday after a vacation. Since then, he has dedicated himself to being seen around, doing the family shopping at a famous supermarket chain in this part of the United States, passing physical exams and completing various paperwork.
He arrives with a contract for two and a half years, for which, as confirmed by the man who has made all this possible, the president of Inter, Jorge Mas, in an interview with EL PAÍS, will charge between 50 and 60 million dollars per year . The offer is rounded off with the promise of a stake in the club when he retires (in this part, the mirror is David Beckham, who ended up founding Inter, to which he is still linked). He also with a portion of the profits from the global broadcast, whose rights are from Apple TV, as well as from the sale of the Adidas kit.
“I am very excited to start this next step in my career with Inter Miami and in the United States,” the player finally said on Saturday in a statement distributed by the club. In it, it says “eager to start helping.” And it is not a set phrase: he is getting on the train of a team that is bottom of the Eastern Conference after a disappointing season but in which mathematically they can still sneak into the playoffs. To welcome their new star, his teammates lost 3-0 against St. Louis, serious contenders for the Major League Soccer (MLS) title.
The recently signed Sergio Busquets, a midfielder who coincided with Messi in Barcelona in good times, and Gerardo Tata Martino, who trained both in Spain and the Argentine in the albiceleste team. Martino also brings the experience of a season in MLS, leading Atlanta United, which he led to win a title.
The program of celebrations to receive the star begins on Sunday with a show baptized as THE PRESENTATION (sic, in Spanish), which will feature performances by Latin music stars Camilo and Ozuna. There will be a press conference on Monday and his first training session on Tuesday morning. On Friday, Messi will debut with the shirt against the Mexican team Cruz Azul, within the Leagues Cup, North American club competition.
MLS boss Don Garber welcomed his most valuable asset with a statement: “We are delighted that the best player in the world has chosen Inter Miami CF and Major League Soccer, which only proves the momentum and the energy behind our league and behind this game in North America.” An important part of the expectation created by the election of Messi, who preferred the United States to the hero’s return home, to Barcelona, and to the billionaire siren songs of Saudi Arabia, is the promise to consolidate soccer in a country where that has not yet fully come to fruition, neither after the arrival of Pelé in the seventies, nor after the 1994 World Cup, nor after Beckham’s landing in Los Angeles in 2007.
What will make it different this time is a mystery yet to be cleared up. It seems clear, yes, that it is now, or never. On the agenda of this possible success there are several dates marked in red: the celebration in the United States of the Copa América for national teams, next year, the Club World Cup, the following year, which opens its format, with 32 participants, and the climax of the World Cup, which the country will host in 2026, along with Mexico and Canada.