Lionel Messi is expected to make his Inter Miami debut July 21

Lionel Messi is expected to make his Inter Miami debut July 21 By A Robin - June 22, 2023
Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi is expected to make his Major League Soccer debut with Inter Miami at a July 21 home game, the team confirmed Tuesday.

Owner Jorge Mas told selected outlets on Monday that his club and Messi have agreed to terms and are finalizing paperwork and a visa.

The team confirmed certain details Tuesday to The Associated Press, including that Messi will be signing a contract through the end of the 2025 season with an option for 2026.

Messi's contract will be worth $50 million to $60 million per year, the team said Tuesday. He cannot sign until sometime in July, after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires.

Messi, 35, announced on June 7 that he was joining Miami.

The Argentinian great's first game in Fort Lauderdale would be against Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup.

The team also confirmed Tuesday that it is increasing capacity at DRV PNK Stadium by 3,000 to 3,200 seats in the next four weeks by filling in the corners, raising capacity to about 22,000.

"I think there will always be a before and after Messi when we talk about the sport in the United States," Mas told the Miami Herald.

"I have a very, very strong-held belief that we can create in North America and the United States if not the greatest league, one of the top two leagues in the world. I cannot overemphasize the magnitude of this announcement.”

Miami also is finalizing a contract with midfielder Sergio Busquets, Messi's former Barcelona teammate, the Herald said, citing a league source.

Mas also said he hopes to start construction during the next two weeks on Miami Freedom Park, the team’s long-term home near Miami International Airport and is targeting to have the venue open in the summer or fall of 2025, the Herald reported.

Miami plans to enhance security, bussing players into the stadium for games, Mas said.

By A Robin - June 22, 2023

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