In the United States, sports such as basketball and football captivate the majority of consumers’ attention. But around the globe, arguably no sport on Earth is more popular than soccer. With leagues in virtually every country and an a bountiful amount of talent to fill them, no other sport has the reach or influence that soccer has. Even if you’re not a fan of the sport it’s impossible to miss, especially when players like Cristiano Ronaldo are getting paid hundreds of millions of dollars to play for the Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr. But arguably the most high profile player in all of soccer Lionel Messi turned down an equally, if not more, lucrative offer from the Saudi Arabian clubs to come to the United States and play in the MLS, and he’s already making his mark on the league just a few games in.
It was originally reported that Messi was offered $1.5 billion to join the Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal. But he shockingly rejected that offer, instead electing to accept an offer from the MLS club Inter Miami, joining the club midway through the season, which will see him earn up to $150 million in two and a half years with the club. Alongside his salary though, Messi was also offered stake in the team, a portion of the sharing rights which are owned by Apple, and much more lucrative than it appears on paper. But his impact on the field was so immediately clear that no one is questioning it: Messi scored his first MLS goal during his debut on July 21st against Cruz Azul after being subbed into the game in the 94th minute, taking a free kick to win the game for Inter Miami. He didn’t stop there though, going on to score two more goals in the first 22 minutes in his next game against Atlanta United while also assisting on another goal scored by Robert Taylor. Then he managed to hit the net two more times this past Wednesday in Inter Miami’s 3-1 win against Orlando City in the Round of 32 in the Leagues Cup, then twice more in yesterday’s win against FC Dallas in the Round of 16. Before Messi’s arrival Inter Miami sat dead last in the Eastern Conference of the MLS, and now they are beginning to look like the team to beat as his arrival has provided the club with a much needed influx of talent. Now they are set to receive a few days of rest ahead of their next matchup on August 11th which will see Messi and company play the winner of today’s matchup between the Charlotte Football Club and Houston Dynamic, however it may not even make a difference who they play as long as Messi is on the field.
Messi has won virtually every award there is to earn in soccer outside of the MLS, and it’s likely he earns those awards as well at the current rate. Even at 36 years old, Messi is still arguably the best soccer player in the world with only the aforementioned Cristiano Ronaldo being the only other player who is considered to be on the same level. But it’s Messi who was the world of soccer abuzz right now, and whether you’re a fan of the sport or not it will certainly be interesting to see just how much Messi is able to accomplish this season and during the rest of his stint with Inter Miami as the sky is the limit for the superstar athlete.