Lionel Messi has confirmed his decision to join MLS club Inter Miami and not a return to Barcelona after leaving Paris Saint-Germain.
After being released by PSG, the World Cup winner had been strongly linked with a move to the Saudi Pro League. Cristiano Ronaldo completed a stunning move to Saudi club Al-Nassr in January and is earning in the region of £173million per year.
That deal was – by a distance – the highest wage in football, which includes image rights and commercial commitments. Al-Nassr’s Riyadh rivals Al-Hilal were this summer preparing an offer for his long-term Argentine rival, but this has not come to fruition.
Separately, Messi’s former teammate Xavi, now in charge of Spanish champions Barcelona, also made no secret of his desire to resign the World Cup winner for the 2023/24 campaign.
In an apparent meeting between father and agent Jorge Messi and Barca President Joan Laporta on Tuesday ramped up rumours that Messi would again make his mark at the club where he scored an incredible 672 goals over a 17-year stint. He previously left against his will in 2021, amid the financial problems that still plague the Catalan club.
In April, Barcelona transfer chiefs confirmed contact had been made with Messi regarding a potential return to the Camp Nou. Xavi and multiple Barca players had spoken of their hope of a sensational return for the Argentine this summer, but that will not be happening.
On Wednesday, Messi conducted an interview in Paris with Catalan newspapers Mundo Deportivo and Sport, in which he explained his decision to move MLS.
“The truth is that I had offers from another European team, but I didn’t even evaluate it because in Europe my only idea was to go to Barcelona,” Messi explained. “After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barça, it was time to go to the United States League to live football differently.
“I want to enjoy more the day to day. Obviously with the same responsibility and desire to want to win and to always do things well. But more calmly.”
He added, of a return to Barca being possible: “I wanted to return to Barcelona but I did not want to leave my future hanging in the hands of other people.
“I heard that they [Barca] had to sell players or lower players’ salaries and the truth is that I didn’t want to go through that.”
Of joining Inter Miami ahead of Al-Hilal, he added: “If it had been a matter of money, I’d have gone to Arabia or elsewhere. It seemed like a lot of money to me. The truth is that my final decision goes elsewhere and not because of money.”
Source: The Mirror UK