FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – International soccer superstar Lionel Messi is headed to South Florida.
The 35-year-old Argentine forward has made his decision to head to the States and to join Inter Miami CF, the David Beckham-owned soccer club based in Fort Lauderdale.
Team officials announced the move in a news conference Wednesday.
Final details of the move still needed to be ironed out.
“I have made the decision that I am going to Miami,” Messi told a Spanish publication. “I still don’t have the deal finalized 100 percent. Some things are still missing, but we are going to continue the journey there.”
Jorge Mas, co-owner of the American franchise, posted this picture to Twitter that showed an Inter Miami jersey with Messi’s name and number.
He, his brother, and David Beckham did make a formal offer to Messi for $54 million per season for four years.
That deal would likely be sweetened by Apple and Adidas, as well as by Major League Soccer, which could possibly offer team ownership incentives.
Messi did weigh options with Barcelona, where he spent more than 20 years. There was also a deal upward of $1 billion from the Saudi Arabian football club, Al Hilal, but that offer seemed to take a back seat to Inter Miami CF.
“It is a very compelling move for him, where he will find happiness on and off of the pitch,” said longtime soccer player and broadcaster Ray Hudson.
South Florida soccer fans were elated with the announcement.
“Wow,” soccer fan Al Obaidi said. “It is shocking news obviously, and it is an exciting one.”
Local 10 News reached out to the city of Miami to get their response and to see if this is a step closer to bringing that soccer stadium to Miami. We were still waiting to hear back as of Wednesday evening.
We do know that the city has said the organization still owes the city more than $1.3 million in building permit fees.