Lionel Messi unveiled by Inter Miami as club looks for new chapter with the FIFA World Cup winner

Messi will be available for selection for the first time for the game against Mexican side Cruz Azul in the inaugural edition of the Leagues Cup on July 21.

Published : Jul 17, 2023 08:26 IST , Chennai - 4 MINS READ

| Video Credit: via AFP

Good things come to those who wait. Thousands of football aficionados had to wait for hours as Inter Miami welcomed Lionel Messi through an official unveiling ceremony titled ‘La PresentaSIon’ at the DRV PNK Stadium in Miami, Florida on Sunday.

The programme, scheduled to start at 5 pm ET, was delayed after torrential rains as a sold-out crowd waited with flags and banners to welcome the legend to the Major League Soccer (MLS) club.

But soon the rain gave way for the Argentine FIFA World Cup winner, who arrived on the ground with cheers of ‘Messi! Messi!’ from 20,000 fans in the stadium.

Messi moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 after spending 17 years at Barcelona, where he scored 672 goals and won 34 trophies, both of which are club records. At Paris, however, his stay was received poorly by the fans, with some PSG ultras also chanting for his departure.

On July 15, Inter Miami announced that Messi had made his way to Florida for a new chapter, with co-owner of the club and former England international David Beckham calling it a ‘dream come true.’

“Ten years ago, when I started my journey to build a new team in Miami, I said that I dreamt of bringing the greatest players in the world to this amazing city,” Beckham said.

“Today that dream came true…The next phase of our adventure starts here, and I can’t wait to see Leo take to the pitch.”

At the unveiling event on Sunday, Messi looked to have put the past behind him as he arrived in a white shirt at the stadium with a smile and was warmly received by Beckham and co-owner Jorge Mas, who is also the president of La Liga side Real Zaragoza.

Read More: Inter Miami completes signing of midfielder Busquets

He was also given the No. 10 jersey by the club – something he has not donned (in club football) since his exit from Barca (he used to wear No. 30 at PSG). 

“I am excited to be here in Miami, to thank David and his family, Jorge... I want to start training and compete, I always want to compete and make the club win, and keep growing! I Hope You Will Continue To Support Us! We Will Do Our Best,” Messi said.

“I have no doubt that we are going to enjoy a lot and that we are going to have a good time. Thank you all so much for this day.”

Inter Miami also announced the signing of Messi’s former teammate at Barcelona and another FIFA World Cup winner, Sergio Busquets earlier in the day.

Read More: Inter Miami sink to rock bottom ahead of Messi unveiling

Like Messi, the  La Masia product left Camp Nou as a legend, with 32 trophies and with the third-highest number of appearances for Barca (722), behind Xavi (767) and Messi (778).

“This is a special and exciting opportunity that I’m very excited to take. I’m looking forward to this next step in my career with Inter Miami,” said Busquets.

“I was impressed by the Club when I came with Barcelona last year and now, I’m happy and ready to represent the Club myself. I can’t wait to help bring the success that this ambitious Club strives for.”

Inter Miami finished sixth in the MLS Eastern Conference standings last year but after 22 matches this season, sits at the bottom with 18 points and is looking to turn the tides, starting with a new manager, Gerard ‘Tata’ Martino.

Though the club lost its first game under former Mexican National Team manager, a 0-3 bashing to Saint Louis, the addition of two World Cup winners is bound to uplift the morale of the fans and the club for the remainder of the season.

Messi will be available for selection for the first time for the game against Mexican side Cruz Azul in the inaugural edition of the Leagues Cup on July 21, which will be played at the DRV PNK Stadium.

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