Lionel Messi is being targeted by Inter Miami, the MLS franchise's manager Phil Neville has confirmed.
Now 35 years old, Messi has won everything in the sport, having completed the set in December with a World Cup win with his native Argentina. Now winding down his career, there has been plenty of speculation about where his playing days will end, having swapped Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 when the club he joined as a child couldn't afford him anymore.
Major League Soccer club Inter Miami has long been touted as a potential option for him to finish his career – and now, manager Neville has admitted that there is truth in the links
Inter Miami have admitted they're trying to sign Lionel Messi
“I’m not going to deny there isn’t truth in the speculation that we’re interested in Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets,” Neville told The Times in an interview. Messi's former team-mate at Barça, Busquets, has been rumoured to be leaving Spain for the States at the end of the season.
The move for Messi would make sense for a number of reasons, as the United States ramp up both national interest in the sport and the country's global image in football ahead of a North American World Cup being hosted in 2026. Canada and Mexico are set to share hosting duties with the US.
On top of what it would do for Messi's image in America, it would also be beneficial for his biggest sponsor. Adidas have supplied Messi's boots from a young age – and the German manufacturer have a contract to produce the shirts for the entirety of the MLS. Adi would no doubt welcome their biggest star arriving in Florida.
Despite interest from across the pond, however, Inter Miami are unsurprisingly not the only side to covet the Flea.
Messi is an ambassador of Saudi Arabia and with Riyadh-based Al-Nassr having signed frenemy Cristiano Ronaldo in January, the Saudi Professional League would likely move heaven, Earth and considerable resources in order to secure Messi's signing, too. Other Middle Eastern sides from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar would likely also be prepared to make an offer for the star, too.
Barcelona manager and former colleague Xavi, meanwhile, has opened the door to a sensational return for Messi back at the Camp Nou, recently stating that, “this is his home and that the doors are open to him,” about the Catalan giants.
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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.