Lionel Messi says he will not go back to Barcelona, but sign with Inter Miami
Moscow/UNI: Argentine forward Lionel Messi said on Wednesday that he will not return to Barcelona football club, where he spent over 20 years of his career, but will sign for Major League Soccer's Inter Miami.
"I wanted it very much, [I] was excited to be able to return [to Barcelona], but after having lived through what I had and the exit that I had, I didn't want to be in the same situation again - waiting to see what was going to happen and leaving my future in the hands of others," he said in an interview with Spanish sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo.
Messi added that he had heard of Barcelona's recent financial difficulties, which caused the club to sell players or lower their salaries, and did not want to "go through that."
"I made the decision to go to Miami. I still haven't made up my mind 100%. I still don't have all the facts, but we decided to go on this path. If that thing with Barcelona didn't come off, I wanted to leave Europe, get out of the spotlight and think more about my family," he said.
Major League Soccer (MLS) said on Wednesday it looks forward to welcoming Messi to the League.
"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 finalize a formal agreement, we look forward to welcoming one of the greatest soccer players of all time to our League," the league tweeted, adding that "millions of MLS fans all over the world welcome you, Leo."
Barcelona FC said in a statement on the website that wished Messi the "best of luck in his new professional phase," adding that Messi and Barcelona FC President Joan Laporta agreed to work together "to promote a proper tribute from Barca fans to honor the footballer."
The football club added that 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," adding that Messi "has been, is, and always will be beloved by Barca."
Inter Miami is owned by Miami Beckham United, which belongs to businessman and former English midfielder David Beckham.
Media reported earlier this week that Inter Miami had offered Messi $200 million for two seasons, adding that other Major League Soccer agreed to cover part of his salary if he joins the championship.
The Argentine star could also participate in the promotion of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will take place in the US, Canada and Mexico, the media said.
French football club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) announced on June 3 that Messi will be leaving after the final Ligue 1 match. The Argentine forward spent two seasons at PSG, for which he signed as a free agent in 2021 after leaving Barcelona.
Messi won the World Cup in Qatar as Argentina's captain in December 2022 for the first time in his career and was named the best player of the championship.