Inter Miami CF provided this photo of Lionel Messi posing in the team jersey in front of a backdrop with the phrase "Welcome Messi." The Argentine star signed a 2 1/2 year contract with the club on 15 July 2023. EFE/Inter Miami Cf Communications/EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Messi signs with Inter Miami

Sports Desk, Jul 15 (EFE).- Seven-time Ballon d’Or Lionel Messi signed Saturday with Inter Miami CF of Major League Soccer (MLS), initiating the next stage in a career that has seen him lift 43 trophies, including the World Cup.

“I’m very excited to start this next step in my career with Inter Miami and in the United States,” the Argentine superstar said in a statement released by the club.

“This is a fantastic opportunity and together we will continue to build this beautiful project. The idea is to work together to achieve the objectives we set, and I’m very eager to start helping here in my new home,” the 36-year-old Messi said.

He committed to stay with Inter through the 2025 MLS season as a Designated Player under a league rule that allows clubs to sign as many as three players exceeding the team’s salary cap.

The MLS’ first Designated Player was Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham, who joined the LA Galaxy in 2007 after starring with Manchester United and Real Madrid co-owner of Inter Miami.

“Ten years ago, when I started my journey to build a new team in Miami, I said that I dreamt of bringing the greatest players in the world to this amazing city,” Beckham said Saturday.

“Players who shared the ambition I had when I joined LA Galaxy to help grow football in the USA and to build a legacy for the next generation in this sport that we love so much,” the former England captain said.

Inter Miami’s managing owner, Jorge Mas, said that signing Messi was in line with the promise he and Beckham made in 2018 “to build an ambitious club that would attract the world’s elite players.”

“We are overjoyed that the greatest player in the world chose Inter Miami CF and Major League Soccer, and his decision is a testament to the momentum and energy behind our league and our sport in North America,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said.

The US will be the venue for the 2024 Copa America and 2025 Club World Cup tournaments and in 2026, the three nations of North America will together host the World Cup.

The official announcement of the signing came minutes after the striker posted to Twitter a video of himself sporting a pink Inter Miami game jersey emblazoned with No. 10.

Messi announced last month that he planned to join Inter Miami after the expiration of his contract with Paris Saint-Germain, but it took weeks to finalize the deal and arrange visas for the player and his family.

The club will present Messi and its other big summer signing, Sergio Busquets, Sunday night at DRV PNK Stadium.

The new players, who were teammates at FC Barcelona for more than a decade, look set to make their Inter Miami debut July 21 in a Leagues Cup match against Mexico’s Cruz Azul.

Last Monday, Inter Miami had their first training session under the command of new manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who guided the Atlanta Union to triumph in MLS Cup in 2018.

Tata was Messi’s coach in Barcelona for one season and for several years with the Argentine national team.

Inter Miami is currently dead last in the MLS Eastern Conference, with 18 points from 21 matches, and are winless in their last 10.