Argentine superstar Lionel Messi is in talks with MLS side Inter Miami about a sensational move to the United States in 2023, according to local reports.
And the Albiceleste captain and playmaker could also acquire 35 percent of the side, part-owned by retired England star David Beckham, as part of the deal.
Messi, 34, currently plays for French side Paris Saint-Germain and has a contract running until June next year. His plans after that are unknown, but DirecTV Sports’ Argentina correspondent Alex Candal reported on Tuesday that Inter Miami had sought to open talks over a shock move that could see the Rosario-born star settle in the United States.
“The contract is done and will be signed in August,” Candal claimed.
Separate sources close to the institution also confirmed to the Noticias Argentinas news agency on Tuesday that negotiations "are very advanced" and there could be news in coming weeks. They said the chances of the Rosario-born superstar wearing an Inter Miami shirt in the future were “good.”
Sources close to the star, however, denied the reports were true, telling Le Parisien that “Leo has not yet decided on his future. And if Leo Messi has crossed paths with David Beckham in the last few hours, it is only as part of PSG’s stay in Doha where the former English midfielder plays a role as an ambassador for the next World Cup in Qatar."
‘Always had the dream’
Messi, who owns property in Florida, said in an interview conducted in 2020 that he had “always had the dream of being able to enjoy and have the experience of living in the United States” and “experience what the league there is like."
Despite a somewhat stuttering start to his spell in Paris, Messi wants to remain at PSG next season to ensure he is in top condition ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, which kicks off in November.
If he did sign a pre-contract and agree terms with the MLS side, Messi would not arrive until he was 36 years old, placing a serious question mark over his potential chances of returning one day to Barcelona, where the player earned his reputation as the one of the best footballers of all time.
Nevertheless, the financial implications could be huge. Reports in Argentina on Tuesday said a deal to deliver Messi to Miami could be worth as much as US$200 million, with the player taking a 35-percent ownership stake in the club.
If ‘La Pulga’ moves to the US, he could line up with former international teammate Gonzalo ‘Pipa’ Higuaín in the starting 11. Inter Miami also has a number of Argentines on the coaching staff, including former San Lorenzo and Racing player Sebastián Saja as goalkeeping coach and retired midfielder Cristian ‘Lobo’ Ledesma, who is part of the youth team set-up.