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What can Lionel Messi bring to Inter Miami?

Lionel Messi stunned the soccer world earlier this month when he confirmed his move to Inter Miami, a major transfer for not only his new club but Major League Soccer as a whole.

The Argentina international, who was spearheading his country's World Cup success just six months ago, is arguably the greatest player of all-time.

His arrival in MLS marks potentially the biggest transfer in the competition's history, certainly since David Beckham's move to LA Galaxy in 2007.

Having won everything there is to win in the game, including a record seven Ballon d'Or, Messi will officially embark on his new challenge stateside later this summer, but will he prove to be as much of a success on the pitch as he will undoubtedly be off it?

A major coup for the MLS

Messi spent 21 successful years with Barcelona and many people expected him to see out his career with the Catalan club before he ultimately joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2021.

The 35-year-old's two years in Paris had their ups and downs as, despite helping his side to back-to-back Ligue 1 titles, he could not steer them to the Holy Grail that is Champions League glory, and his departure at the end of the 2022/23 campaign seemed inevitable.

Barca were linked with re-signing the Rosario native, while there was also said to be a lucrative offer on the table from Saudi Arabia, but Messi ultimately opted to make the move to the US with Inter Miami.

It is understood that Messi, who has reportedly agreed a two-and-a-half-year contract, will earn between $50-$60m dollars per season during his time in Miami and it is fair to say his transfer represents one of, if not the biggest moves in MLS history.

Only the arrival of former Manchester United and Real Madrid star Beckham at LA Galaxy 16 years ago can come close to matching this deal.

Messi's move eclipses some of the other big transfers to the MLS over the intervening period, which saw the likes of Kaka, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic pitch up stateside.

Beckham of course is one of the owners of Inter Miami and may well have played a role in Messi's decision to move to the DRV PNK Stadium.

Messi joining a team in need of a lift

Throughout his club career, whether that be with Barcelona or PSG, Messi has been used to challenging for major honours.

However, he will be entering an entirely different situation at Inter Miami, as his new side currently sit bottom of the Eastern Conference standings in the MLS after winning just five of their opening 17 matches.

Only two teams currently have worse records in the entire MLS than the Herons, who are also without a head coach after parting ways with Phil Neville at the start of the month - Javier Morales is currently in interim charge.

However, the imminent arrival of Messi can surely only have a positive impact on results and despite their lowly standing, Inter Miami are still only seven points off the playoff positions and are priced at +2000 to win the MLS Cup.

Messi may not be the only big player to arrive at Inter Miami over the summer, with his former Barca team-mate Jordi Alba and fellow Argentinian Angel Di Maria having also been heavily linked with moves - Di Maria is +175 to join his compatriot by 3rd September.

Goals and creativity are required

While the signing of Messi will undoubtedly have huge benefits for Inter Miami and the MLS as a whole off the field, at 35 the forward also still has plenty to offer on it, let’s face it, he was the star of the show as Argentina won the World Cup at the end of last year.

Those exploits have left Messi -334 to claim a record-extending eighth Ballon d'Or later this year and those chances will only be enhanced if he can galvanise his new side.

Inter Miami have been lacking goals and creativity throughout the 2023 season - they have averaged less than a goal-per-game in the MLS this term - with only two players, Josef Martinez and Leonardo Campana, having scored more than once in the league.

With Messi having netted a staggering 807 goals in 1028 career appearances for club and country, it is safe to assume he will improve Inter Miami's misfiring attack and the rest of the MLS should be wary.

Messi is currently enjoying an extended break following the conclusion of the European season, but he is expected to link up with his new team next month, with his debut having been pencilled in for July 21 when Inter Miami face Mexican outfit Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup.

Inter Miami are also due to face Atlanta United in that competition on July 25, but MLS fans will have to wait until August 21 for Messi to make his debut in that competition, with the Herons set to play host to Charlotte FC that day.

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