Lionel Messi says he’s joining Miami’s MLS team

Messi leaves the ballon d’Or to Miami in the light of his recent move to MLS and the current struggles of the Eastern Conference

A seven-time Ballon d’Or winner makes a move after two years with Paris Saint-Germain. At 35, Messi has nothing left to prove in the game and filled the only significant unchecked box on his resume back in December by leading Argentina to the World Cup title.

As his contract with his current employer, Paris St.-Germain, ran down, his status as the world’s best player made him an extremely valuable prospect. Miami was far from his only option: Messi, 35, eschewed both a putative return to Barcelona and a monumental offer, said to be worth as much as $500 million, to move to Saudi Arabia, which has set out to lure a dozen of the finest players on the planet to the Gulf this summer.

But in the end, he made the call that did not seem right to many. Messi is moving to MLS. He made the call in the interviews to continue with his path in Miami, despite some final details still being worked out.

Barcelona’s financial turmoil forced him to make a decision. He said he did not want to go through a situation in which he was held responsible for having Barcelona adjust its squad simply to accommodate him.

And now he comes to MLS, and a team that is struggling — last place in the Eastern Conference, just a few days removed from the firing of coach Phil Neville (who was hand-picked by Beckham two years ago).

Lionel Messi’s photo and the world’s greatest scorer: How much does he want to tell us about his future?

Messi has more than 800 goals in his career, which makes him one of the greatest scorers in the sport’s history. In more than 17 years of representing Argentina on the international stage, he has scored 102 goals against 38 different national team opponents. He scored twice in last year’s World Cup final against France, a match which ended in a 3-3 draw.

That likely will soon change. Shortly before Lionel Messi spoke to Spanish news outlets about his decision to remain with Barcelona, one of the owner’s posted a photo of a darkly silhouetted jersey.

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