Lionel Messi has confirmed that he will be moving to Inter Miami CF in a deal that reportedly includes an option for the Argentine to become a part-owner of the MLS side.
Much speculation has surrounded the 35-year-old’s next move over the past few weeks, with Messi being heavily linked with a moves to both Saudi Arabia and Barcelona.
But he has finally settled on his decision, despite being reportedly offered a ginormous £2billion deal, that could have seen him join Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal.
The World Cup winner has also been heavily linked with a fairytale move back to his former side Barcelona, yet, amid financial difficulties at the LaLiga giants, Messi has instead opted for a move to Inter Miami.
In an interview with Mundo Deportivo he said: ‘I’m not going back to Barça, I’m going to Inter Miami.’
Mail Sport understands that Messi, who won four Champions League titles with the Blaugrana and scored 672 goals in 778 games for the club, will be offered a lucrative contract with the MLS club, that could include deals with adidas.
ESPN are also reporting that his deal with the American side includes an option that could see him become a part-owner of the football club and a slice of the subscriber revenues from Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass.
His father, Jorge, had reportedly met with Barcelona president Joan Laporte earlier this week, but it appears Messi did not want to return to his former club.
Speaking on the rumours that he could return to Barcelona, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner said: ‘I really wanted [to return to Barcelona], I was very excited to be able to return, but after having experienced what I experienced and the exit I had, I did not want to be in the same situation again: waiting to see what was going to happen and leaving my future in hand from another.
‘I wanted to make my own decision, thinking about myself, about my family. Although I heard that it was said that LaLiga had accepted everything and that everything was fine for him to return, there were still many other things that had to be done.
‘I heard that they [Barcelona] had to sell players or lower players’ salaries and the truth is that I didn’t want to go through that, nor take charge of obtaining something that had to do with all that’.
‘I have already been accused of many things that were not true in my career at Barcelona and I was already a bit tired, I didn’t want to go through all that. And well, the time I had to leave, LaLiga had also accepted that they sign me up and in the end it couldn’t be done.
‘Well, I was afraid that the same thing would happen again and I had to go through the bullfight as it happened, that I had to come here to Paris to stay in a hotel for a long time with my family, with my children going to school and still being in the hotel… I wanted to make my own decision and that’s why it was a bit that I didn’t turn to Barça. Although I would have loved it, I couldn’t.
‘I am also in a moment where I want to get out of focus a bit, think more about my family. As I was just saying, I spent two years at a family level that was so bad that I didn’t enjoy it. I had the month that was spectacular for me for having won the World Cup, but removing that was a difficult stage for me.’
After 21 years at the Spanish club winning 32 major title, Messi moved to PSG in 21 on a marquee deal that would see him ear £35-per-year.
The 35-year-old had been left ’emotionally destroyed’ by his departure from the LaLiga club, after it appeared the club could no longer afford to pay his wages, amid financial turmoil, which despite winning LaLiga this season, are still far from resolved.
In response to the news, Barcelona have released a statement in which president Laporta wished Messi well at his new club.
It reads: ‘On Monday, June 5, Jorge Messi, the player’s father and representative, informed Club President Joan Laporta of the player’s decision to join Inter Miami, despite having been presented with a proposal from Barça, in consideration of the desire of both FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi for him to once again wear blaugrana.
‘President Laporta understood and respected Messi’s decision to want to compete in a league with fewer demands, further away from the spotlight and the pressure he has been subject to in recent years.
‘Both Joan Laporta and Jorge Messi also agreed to work together to promote a proper tribute from Barça fans to honor a footballer who has been, is, and always will be beloved by Barça.’
Linking up with his former Barca teammate, Neymar, Messi went on to return 32 goals in 75 games across all competitions for the Parisians, while winning Ligue 1 twice in his two-year spell at the club.
His contract with the club is due to officially expire on June 30, but it had already been confirmed that he would be leaving the club.
A statement from Major League Soccer said: ‘We are pleased that Lionel Messi has stated that he intends to join Inter Miami and Major League Soccer this summer.
‘Although work remains to finalise a formal agreement wee look forward to welcoming one of the greatest soccer players of all time to our League.’
He’ll now join Inter Miami, who currently sit bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference League and will be hoping Messi can help improve things at the Florida football club this season after they sacked their manager Phil Neville last week.
The Argentine’s arrival has also sparked much excitement among Inter Miami fans, with ticket prices for their game in August against New York Red Bulls rising by 1,400 per cent, now costing over £241 ($300) per ticket.