Soccer superstar Lionel Messi is being linked to Major League Soccer (MLS) as his next home. Here’s what a move to America’s top soccer league could mean.
What Happened: Over the last 19 seasons, Messi has played for Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). With his contract with PSG set to expire in June 2023, soccer experts are pointing to where the new home could be for the world superstar.
Messi had previously said he would like to play in MLS in the future. Sources said Messi could be circling Inter Miami, an MLS team co-owned by former soccer superstar David Beckham.
Sources told ESPN no deal has been reached and Messi will wait until after the 2022 World Cup is over to decide his future.
Inter Miami has also been linked to Cristiano Ronaldo, who was recently cut by Manchester United MANU. Previous rumors linked the two world stars to play together in the future, which has not been made true yet.
Messi owns a home in Miami and frequents the location for vacations with his family regularly, according to reports.
The Argentinian forward is currently helping his national team at the 2022 World Cup with two goals in two appearances and a bid to advance to the elimination games after a shocking early loss to Saudi Arabia.
Prior to the 2022 World Cup, Messi had 12 goals in 19 matches for PSG in the season.
MLS Winners: While a move to the MLS could seem unlikely to those who follow soccer, it could also perfectly mirror a move made by Beckham in 2007 when he chose the American soccer league over a host of other potential suitors.
If Major League Soccer can land Messi or Ronaldo or both, it could greatly benefit its media partners and team owners that include numerous celebrities and NFL team owners.
Earlier this year, technology giant Apple Inc AAPL signed a deal with MLS for 10 years of media rights set to begin in 2023. The deal gives Apple streaming rights and was said to be worth $2.5 billion, a big sports rights bet by Apple as it grows out its coverage with AppleTV+.
The deal at the time said current MLS rights owners ESPN and Fox Sports, units of Walt Disney Co DIS and Fox Corp FOXFOXA, could also gain linear television content.
“In a historic first for sports, fans can stream every single MLS match through the Apple TV app, without any local blackouts or restrictions,” Apple said.
Beckham’s appearance in the MLS led to a surge in television viewership, live attendance and merchandise sales, benefitting media partners and team owners.
Another company set to benefit could be Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, owner of MLS team Toronto FC.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment counts Rogers Communications Inc RCI and BCE Inc BCE as owners of 37.5% each. Rogers previously expressed interest in selling off some of its sports team ownership interests.
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