MLS- Major League Soccer

How Lionel Messi’s move to MLS is a billion-dollar proposition: Explained

Sayantan ChakrabortySayantan Chakraborty

June 9 2023
Lionel Messi Inter Miami
(Courtesy : Guardian, FOS)

Lionel Messi has decided to move to Inter Miami this summer.

Argentina legend and World Cup winner Lionel Messi has decided to end his career in Europe and move to the MLS this summer. Lionel Messi will be signing for David Beckham-owned MLS side Inter Miami, after two years in Ligue 1 with PSG. Lionel Messi’s stay in France was relatively successful, with two straight Ligue 1 titles and the Trophee Des Champions.

What makes this move a big deal for Messi and the MLS?

To understand the significance of this move, we need to look at the history and growth of the MLS since David Beckham’s arrival. Nearly a decade ago, the England captain and Real Madrid superstar David Beckham decided to take his talent to the USA and signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS. Back in 2007, no major stars in football ever made their move to North America for soccer before Beckham arrived in LA.

David Beckham’s commercial deals and MLS

There was a huge commercial impact on the MLS following the arrival of the former Manchester United star. He became the face of the league and single-handedly elevated the value of the MLS through his brand presence. Throughout his five-and-a-half-year playing career at LA Galaxy, 300,000 Beckham LA Galaxy Jersey were sold. Also included in his deal was the option to buy a new expansion MLS franchise. The MLS went on to grow from 13 to 29 franchises now and David Beckham is now a co-owner of the Inter Miami franchise, which Lionel Messi will join.

Soccer in the states became more popular as Beckham appeared in promotional ads with top brands such as Adidas and H&M, as well as Super Bowl promos for the NFL. As per the latest reports, he’s gone on to earn $255M over his five years in the MLS. He bought the expansion MLS franchise Inter Miami for $25 million with the billionaire Mas family. The Inter Miami franchise is currently valued at $600 million and represents a 2300% increase since his purchase.

Now looking at Lionel Messi and his move to Miami represents a very similar comparison with that of Beckham’s arrival. Having arguably the greatest player of all time gracing the MLS will be a massive boost in viewership, fans as well as revenue for the MLS. As per reports, Messi will be receiving a cut from the revenue generated by MLS broadcasters Apple from his arrival. Additionally, his sponsor Adidas, which also happens to be MLS’s official partner will share a part of their profits. Additionally, he’s also been offered ownership stakes in Inter Miami.

All these factors look very similar to the move David Beckham made in 2007 and with the incentive to be even bigger for the league, especially with the USA hosting the World Cup in 2026.

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