Lionel Messi has completed his transfer to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami.

His contract is for two-and-a-half seasons, with an option to extend for a further year in the 2026 season.

The club tweeted a video of Messi — wearing the No 10 shirt — on Saturday and later confirmed his arrival after the deal was finally ratified by MLS.

Messi will be officially unveiled to fans at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at an event on Sunday (8pm ET, 1am BST on Monday).

His new club said he would first be available for selection against LIGA MX side Cruz Azul in the opening match of Leagues Cup on July 21.


— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) July 15, 2023

“I’m very excited to start this next step in my career with Inter Miami and in the United States,” said Messi.

“This is a fantastic opportunity and together we will continue to build this beautiful project. The idea is to work together to achieve the objectives we set, and I’m very eager to start helping here in my new home.”

Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham says he “dreamt” of bringing a player like Messi to Miami.

“Ten years ago, when I started my journey to build a new team in Miami, I said that I dreamt of bringing the greatest players in the world to this amazing city. Players who shared the ambition I had when I joined LA Galaxy to help grow football in the USA and to build a legacy for the next generation in this sport that we love so much,” Beckham said in quotes published on the club’s official website.

“Today that dream came true. I couldn’t be prouder that a player of Leo’s caliber is joining our club, but I am also delighted to welcome a good friend, an amazing person and his beautiful family to join our Inter Miami community. The next phase of our adventure starts here, and I can’t wait to see Leo take to the pitch.”



Lionel Messi to Inter Miami: The key questions answered

The 36-year-old announced in early June that he had decided to move to MLS following his Paris Saint-Germain exit, despite interest from former club Barcelona and Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal.

All parties have spent the last month on the complicated deal, which includes additions to the typical MLS standard player agreement. Messi is expected to get an equity share in Inter Miami when he finishes as a player, and Miami owner Jorge Mas has told reporters he expects the total package to be worth somewhere in the range of $50-60 million per year.

Messi, who has not yet begun training, has spent the past few weeks on holiday with his family in the Bahamas and landed at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport on July 11.

He will join up with former boss Tata Martino at the club following his appointment as head coach in June.



How Beckham’s transformative MLS contract paved the way for Messi

Messi to Miami — read more on The Athletic

  • ‘He’s like a god here — what Messi will get in Miami’
  • **How signing Messi will impact MLS and American soccer
  • Apple, Lionel Messi and the $2.5bn question: What’s next?



With Messi coming to Miami, is Los Angeles still the MLS home for global stars?

Messi left Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season after his two-year contract with the Ligue 1 side expired.

Barcelona, whom Messi departed to join PSG in the summer of 2021, had repeatedly expressed interest in re-signing the Argentina star and World Cup winner.

Messi had also received a proposal from Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal, which could have seen the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner command around €400million a year.

But The Athletic reported back in October that Inter Miami were increasingly confident in a pursuit that has spanned several years.

His move to MLS is a huge coup as the United States gears up to host the 2026 World Cup alongside Canada and Mexico.



Lionel Messi to join MLS side Inter Miami

When will Messi play for Miami — and what number will he wear?

The MLS transfer window opened on July 5, and Miami have an away game on July 15, before playing at home on July 21 and July 25 in the Leagues Cup, MLS’s new venture with Liga MX.

That July 21 date against Cruz Azul has been circled for Messi’s debut. Tickets for that game have sold out.

Should Miami advance out of that group stage, they would have more Leagues Cup games.

Their next MLS home game is not until August 20, at home against Charlotte FC. They then play on the road at New York Red Bulls before welcoming Nashville SC to Ft. Lauderdale on August 30.

Messi’s No. 10 shirts for Barcelona and Argentina remain iconic in the history of soccer, so much so that it was downright strange to see him wear the No. 30 in his two seasons with Paris Saint-Germain (even though he had worn that number previously as a youngster with Barça).

Now, Messi is going back to a classic: he’ll almost certainly wear the No. 10 for Miami, which the club has purposely kept unfilled all season in hope of his arrival.

Why did Messi’s deal take so long to complete?

Analysis by Paul Tenorio, Pablo Maurer and Tom Bogert

Due to MLS’s single-entity structure, players sign contracts with the league, not individual teams.

But unlike normal MLS contracts, Messi’s has not been a simple matter. For a legendary player and a potentially league-altering signing, MLS and Inter Miami got creative with compensation to ensure he wasn’t lured to Saudi Arabia.

Messi’s contract includes the option to purchase an equity stake in Inter Miami, and part of the deal also necessitates discussions with Apple regarding revenue share on new subscriptions for the MLS Season Pass service. A source briefed on the negotiations said the Apple deal will be based on revenue driven by new international subscribers.

There has also been the structure of the compensation itself, the tax implications of how the contract is drawn up, as well as things like marketing and image rights. Those negotiations go down to granular levels, like which entities own rights to Messi’s name and the No. 10 for use on different products, for example.



Apple, Lionel Messi and the $2.5bn question: What’s next?

How much is Messi earning and who is paying it?

Messi’s deal is worth around $50-60 million annually, though that includes the value of his equity in Inter Miami, which will activate after his time with the club.

Additionally, Messi will receive additional income through MLS partners.

He’ll get some portion of new MLS Season Pass subscriptions on Apple TV, as well as agreements for compensation from Adidas (who is his long-time sponsor and kit manufacturers for MLS and all 29 clubs) and Fanatics.



Messi’s move to MLS was three years in the making - Jorge Mas

The Adidas and Apple portions of the deal are functionally separate from the base salary that he’ll make just as a player in MLS. The MLS Players’ Association will release salary details for all players later this year, as it did a few months ago. Messi’s number will be eagerly anticipated.

All parties see the deal as a boon; Apple and MLS signed a 10-year, $2.5billion agreement this spring. Apple also revealed a four-part docuseries chronicling Messi’s five World Cup appearances would stream on Apple TV+.

Adidas, meanwhile, has partnered with MLS since the league’s inception in 1996. The two sides renewed their partnership earlier this year, signing a six-year, $830million extension that runs through 2030. The German manufacturer supplies kits to all 29 MLS teams and also designs the league’s official match ball and is the league’s official footwear sponsor.

Messi himself has a long-standing relationship with Adidas, which started in 2006. In 2017, he signed a lifetime footwear sponsorship deal with the company.



Should Lionel Messi get the ‘Jordan treatment’ from MLS referees?

Inter Miami — the lowdown

Inter Miami were established in 2018 and have been contesting MLS matches since 2020.

They are owned by brothers Jorge and Jose Mas alongside former England captain David Beckham, who played MLS football with LA Galaxy between 2007 and 2012 after more than a decade at Manchester United and four years at Real Madrid.

Inter Miami currently play at the 18,000-seater DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, but permission has been granted for construction to begin on Miami Freedom Park, a $1billion (£860m) stadium complex that will give Inter Miami a spectacular home.

The club endured a tumultuous period post-launch as they entered MLS during the COVID-19 pandemic and were later punished for breaking budget rules.

Their challenging spell has continued this term, with the franchise bottom of the Eastern Conference standings when Phil Neville was sacked.

(Photo: Getty Images)