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Lionel Messi would bring “unprecedented opportunity” to MLS: Inter Miami owner | MLSSoccer.com

Lionel Messi would bring “unprecedented opportunity” to MLS: Inter Miami owner | MLSSoccer.com

Jorge Mas, Inter Miami CEO and managing owner, recently explained how profound the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner coming to Major League Soccer would be.

“I think there will always be a before and after Messi when we talk about the sport in the United States,” Mas said to local reporters. “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 over-emphasize the magnitude of this [moment].”

Often, parallels have been drawn between Messi coming to Inter Miami and David Beckham joining the LA Galaxy in 2007. The league’s Designated Player rule began when Beckham, now a co-owner of Inter Miami, arrived from Spanish giants Real Madrid. Overnight, the perception of MLS changed. And in the ensuing 16 years, MLS has experienced tremendous growth on and off the field, spanning from expansion teams and infrastructure (stadiums/training facilities) to increased roster spend and homegrown players.

Mas described a similar rocket-fuel moment around the former FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain superstar, capitalizing on the momentum surrounding MLS. Messi won the World Cup with Argentina in December and would bring an astonishing 43 trophies for club and country with him, as well as over 800 goals scored.

“It is, I think, a tremendous and unprecedented opportunity that we have ahead of us,” Mas said. “And I think that all of us collectively will take the right steps to make sure to put this league in the hyper-growth that it deserves.”

Mas also noted Inter Miami are pursuing additional moves, trying to ignite their 2023 campaign. The league’s Secondary Transfer Window opens July 5 and extends until Aug. 2, allowing clubs to register/add reinforcements from within MLS or abroad.

“We will be making additional signings during the summer window, more than what people anticipate,” Mas said. “We do not have to dismantle our team. We do not have to clean house, but I can say we will potentially be making between three and five signings.”

Inter Miami, currently bottom of the Eastern Conference table, are seven points off the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs pace halfway through their 2023 campaign. They’re also in the US Open Cup semifinals on Aug. 23 at FC Cincinnati and begin their Leagues Cup campaign on July 21 vs. Liga MX side Cruz Azul.

The Herons have been led by interim head coach Javier Morales since parting ways with Phil Neville on June 1. Chief soccer officer and sporting director Chris Henderson is helping lead a search for Neville’s replacement.

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