Lionel Messi completed football nine months ago when he lifted the World Cup trophy for his country for what was the first time since 1986, essentially cementing his legacy as the greatest football player of all time. But after achieving the highest of career highs on that December day in Lusail, what was next for Messi?
After all, he had just won arguably the biggest and greatest prize in football, and the only one that had eluded him throughout his career. What was there left for him to do now?
The Argentine would go on to finish the rest of the campaign with PSG at club-level, helping the Parisian side to what was a 9th French league title since the turn of the century. An announcement that he would be leaving the club in the summer following the expiry of his contract soon followed to cap off what was, in all honesty, a pretty underwhelming stint at the club. So, where would Messi go next?
There were rumblings about a potential move back to the Nou Camp with Barcelona, but that looked unlikely considering Barcelona’s well-documented financial problems, which were the reason why Messi left the Catalan side in the first place. There was also heavy talk of the Argentine making the move to the Middle East to join the newly-moneyed Saudi Pro League, where all manner of European stars were jetting off to. Cristiano Ronaldo was already there with Al-Nassr, and securing Messi would have been a huge coup for the league and would have guaranteed many more eyeballs on the developing division.
That is why Al-Hilal reportedly offered him a one-year deal worth an eye-watering £354m, but ultimately, Messi would turn that offer down. Messi himself believed that he could still compete at the highest levels of European football for at least another season, but ultimately, his options were very limited. Barcelona, the one club that Messi would have happily joined, were not able to produce a suitable financial offer that would satisfy both Messi and La Liga itself, while basically every other club in Europe couldn’t afford him.
Therefore, there was just one other option still available to the player, and while it was a rumour that had been bubbling along in the background quietly for some time, it was a rumour that no one had ever taken seriously. But in mid-July, the shock announcement dropped.
Lionel Messi had decided to make the move across the Atlantic to join MLS side Inter Miami in the United States of America. The greatest football player of all time would be joining a club that had a stadium capacity of just over 20,000 seats, and had only been founded in January of 2018, a mere two months before the birth of Messi’s third child. It was somewhat surreal. But as you would expect with Messi, his impact at the club, and on the league as a whole, has been immediate…
Messi’s debut for his new club was slated for the 21st of July against Mexican side Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup, but before he even first kicked a ball for his new side, he had already made a furore on social media. Pictures of the 36-year-old being spotted doing some grocery shopping at supermarket chain Publix went viral, with some lucky fans being able to snap pictures with the man himself. And then the famous Hard Rock Café named a chicken sandwich after him, with the “Messi Chicken Sandwich” being inspired by Messi’s love of Milanese. But now, the football…