Inter Miami and Lionel Messi to tour China in November after play-off disappointment

Lionel Messi ahead of Inter Miami's match against Toronto FC in September 2023.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lionel Messi will not be leaving Inter Miami on loan for Barcelona, Saudi Arabia or anywhere else this winter after the Florida club announced plans for the team during the off-season break.

There were rumours that Messi could make an emotional return to Barça or renew his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo by moving to the Saudi Pro League after Inter Miami failed to make the MLS play-offs.

That disappointment leaves the Florida outfit with no competitive football until February, but the club will be busy building their brand during that time – and Messi will be a key part of their plans.

Following the conclusion of the MLS season later this month, Inter Miami will head to China for their first ever international tour.

The MLS side will play against two Chinese Super League teams as they meet Qingdao Hainiu FC on November 5th and then face Chengdu Rongcheng three days later.

"We’re very excited to continue to expand our Club's global reach, bringing our team to play in front of incredible fans across the globe," said Miami's Chief Business Officer Xavier Asensi.

"This is a special opportunity to share the passion as we reach new audiences and put ourselves on display in new places, and we’re looking forward to beginning this adventure."

Inter Miami's Sporting Director and Chief Soccer Officer Chris Henderson added: "This will be a great opportunity to continue building on our 2023 campaign, in which we achieved our first-ever trophy.

"We will take this as an opportunity to begin our preparations for 2024, as we look to build on last season and find more success moving forward."

The two fixtures will also help Messi to maintain his match fitness ahead of Argentina's World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Brazil later in November.

More Lionel Messi stories

A Barcelona advisor has explained why Lionel Messi chose Inter Miami over a return to Camp Nou in the summer.

Previously, Barcelona president Joan Laporta revealed that Messi had been 'very close' to moving back to the Catalan club.

What is it like to play with Messi? One former Barcelona team-mate gives some insight and says it is 'impossible' to pick just one moment.

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