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Controversy as Lionel Messi brands MLS ‘minor league’ despite making fortune, star fans

Lionel Messi’s move to Inter Miami, orchestrated by David Beckham, marked a landmark moment for both team and MLS

 Lionel Messi brands MLS a ‘minor league’ despite groundbreaking impact and star-studded spectatorship.—X/file

In a candid interview in Argentina, Lionel Messi raised many eyebrows by referring to Major League Soccer (MLS) as a ‘minor league,’ despite his groundbreaking $60 million-a-year deal with Inter Miami and the league’s significant role in bankrolling the contract through partnerships with Apple and Adidas.

Messi’s move to Inter Miami, orchestrated by David Beckham, marked a landmark moment for the team and MLS. 

However, his recent comments on the league’s standard, which he made while reflecting on his future and participation in the upcoming 2026 World Cup in the United States, have added an unexpected twist. 

When discussing his time in MLS, Messi acknowledged, ‘I am also aware that I went to a minor league, but a lot happens because of the way one faces it and competes.’

Despite this characterisation, Messi expressed his commitment to competing at his best and mentioned targeting participation in the 2026 World Cup. 

He emphasised his immediate focus on the Copa América in the US next summer, stating, ‘As long as I feel that I’m fine and I can continue contributing, I’m going to do it.’

Messi’s impact on Inter Miami was electrifying, with notable achievements such as spearheading the team’s Leagues Cup triumph and scoring 11 goals in 14 games. 

The presence of global celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Leonardo DiCaprio, LeBron James, and Prince Harry at his matches further underscored his star power.

While Messi’s arrival propelled Inter Miami to a sold-out status for season tickets, there was a substantial price hike. The cheapest season ticket nearly doubled to $884, creating unprecedented excitement for the upcoming season. 

The team’s transformation under Messi’s influence, along with the prospect of additional star signings like Luis Suarez, adds anticipation to MLS’s 2024 schedule, which coincides with the Copa América.

Messi’s recent Ballon d’Or win, his eighth, in Paris, presented by Miami co-owner Beckham, solidifies his global football stature, even as he navigates the challenges and successes of his MLS venture.

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