June 25, 2024

Messi’s MLS move and Saudi Arabia’s big football plans

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Each week, Luis Miguel Echegaray discusses the latest in the world of football and shares his opinion whether you agree or not. From standout performances to what you may have missed and what to keep an eye on in the coming days, LME has a lot to say.


ONSIDE

Lionel Messi comes to America

That is gigantic.

To name Messi’s move MLS And InterMiami A monumental moment for the American football landscape is undercutting them. His arrival will no doubt be a catalyst for the sport’s popularity in the country, boosting viewership ahead of the 2026 World Cup when the US, Canada and Mexico are hosts.

When David Beckham in 2007 to Los Angeles GalaxyHe catapulted the league’s popularity while introducing more commercial and team control (the designated player rule was introduced because of him), at a time when growth and notoriety were imperative. Messi’s arrival will make Beckham’s move to LA look like Dietmar Hamann to Bolton Wanderers (sorry Dietmar, I didn’t mean to throw shadows). My point is that Messi – whose announcement alone already has a significant impact (see Inter Miami ticket sales And Social Media Followers) – will affect so many factors in terms of the growth of the sport in the US. This wave is getting bigger and bigger.

I’ll use some of my “onsides” today to explain the various factors behind the Argentine’s move to South Beach, but to wrap up this particular section, Messi in Miami is an asset to the sport’s notoriety that benefits everyone but Barcelona President Joan Laporta and whoever was in charge of writing The team’s statement in response to Messi’s move.

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3:36

Messi explains why he chose MLS over Barcelona and Saudi Arabia

Lionel Messi is open about his decision to join Inter Miami despite being offered offers from Barcelona and the Saudi Pro League.

Messi, wife Antonella and their family win

The other talking point about Messi’s arrival in Miami is that her family can finally balance Leo’s demanding schedule, Messi’s growing brand and ongoing goal to deliver a few more seasons, all in a city that’s embracing the entire process can facilitate culturally . As a Hispanic South American with family in Europe, it’s important to understand that cultural and social adjustment can be difficult. When I left Peru for England I was overwhelmed by many aspects of English life.

It won’t be that big of a challenge for Messi and his family. Still, moving to another continent can be challenging for a family. I don’t care how much money is thrown around, it’s still difficult. Enter Miami, the Latin American capital of the world. The family is already familiar with the city and owns properties in South Beach. The language barrier won’t be an issue (Miami has shops with signs saying “We speak English”) and many of their friends and family are regular visitors, making it a perfect place to continue Messi’s next chapter.

However, here lies the biggest selling point, which I’ve spoken to many foreign MLS players over the years. The pressure to play and interact with European, English and South American sports media can be too great to handle. Especially for Messi, whose life constantly makes headlines.

“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barca, it was time to go to the league in the United States and live football in a different way and enjoy my everyday life,” Messi told Mundo Deportivo and Sport on his announcement. “Of course with the same responsibility and the same will to win and always do things well. But with more peace.”

Peace is the key word. Messi wants to be happy. He wants his family to be happy. Anyone who knows Miami well will tell you that the South Florida city isn’t exactly associated with peace, but his point remains. The pressures are different.

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1:58

How will Inter’s attack line up in the UCL final against Man City?

Alejandro Moreno and Craig Burley explain why Simone Inzaghi should start Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko in UCL Finals

MLS and Inter Miami also win

When Beckham arrived at the Galaxy – essentially as the second chapter of MLS’s growth and development (the first chapter being its debut in 1996) – the league had 13 teams. His arrival skyrocketed attendance at the Home Depot Center and took the league to a new level. Admittedly, that took some time, but its introduction also ushered in the DP role and changed salary caps in MLS forever.

Also part of his arrival deal was an opportunity to acquire a franchise (other than New York City) for a fixed price of $25 million. The optional? InterMiami. Fast forward to the present and MLS now has 29 teams, with the 30th (San Diego) Landing in 2025. Inter Miami was 25th in 2020 and three years later, Beckham’s friend Messi is on the way.

Apple, the league’s main distributor, embarked on a global strategy with MLS and Messi’s arrival now sets the tone of marketable presence. Adidas, the league’s kit partner, also wins in what looks to be unprecedented kit sales. just for context, PSG sold more than a million Messi-printed copies kits in their first season and that number will be low compared to Inter Miami’s expectations. Their ticket sales and current Fort Lauderdale stadium will be an issue when it comes to meeting demand and as of this writing Inter Miami’s Instagram account has gone from 1 million to 6 within the first 48 hours of Messi’s announcement .7 million followers grown.

There are talks about that too Sergio Busquets Joining as well as other well-known, albeit aging stars such as Jordy Alba. Time is not necessarily a problem, but it is not a commodity either. Beckham has had to wait until his fifth season with the Galaxy to lift his first MLS trophy and Messi may not have that long (he turns 36 this month) but the hope is to see the team sooner than to strengthen later. It won’t be easy or quick since Miami is at the bottom of the table and has no coach.

Regardless, Messi’s arrival is a win for other clubs in the league as his introduction has implications for other potential transfer targets. More players from all over the world will want to join the league. Before Messi, MLS was already healthy as it has a core of young Latin Americans, including young Argentines (Thiago Almada, Emanuel Reynoso, Julian Carranza) as well as Europeans (Lorenzo Insignia, Xherdan Shaqiri) and big Mexican names (Carlos Vela, Javier Hernández).

Now MLS has Messi. This is how a league becomes powerful.


OFFSIDE

Can Inter block Man City’s treble?

The Messi telenovela made us forget that there’s a tiny, trivial thing called the Champions League final on Saturday. The imperial Man City, the genius manager Pep Guardiola and his superstar team, especially the Norwegian goal machine Erling HaalandThey hope for history against International with the chance of a treble after winning the Premier League and FA Cup.

Let’s start with the fact that I don’t see anything short of a Man City win. This team is just too good. Even if they’re not good, they’re good. Even if they are unlucky during a game, they only need a moment. So do I think Simone Inzaghi’s resilient, tenacious Inter can achieve anything here? No, I will not do that.

I don’t want Man City to win. It is too much. It’s mind-blowing to imagine that this is an all-powerful team, literally made of titanium. Yes, I’m jealous of their grandiosity. I’m jealous of their near perfection and honestly I don’t think I’ve gotten over it Jack Grealish‘s exit from AstonVilla to city. I can’t get rid of these allegations of breaking the law Financial Fair Playeither.

Pep is Thanos, the squad represents his Infinity Stones and on Saturday night the world will be theirs. At least for a few years.

Why we need to talk about Saudi Arabia’s intriguing and controversial master plan

Thank goodness Lionel Messi chose MLS because honestly the Saudi Pro League was about to take their own lunch, eat it and then take over the entire restaurant. After Cristiano Ronaldo‘s arrival at Al-Nassr – coupled with the Public Investment Fund’s majority takeover of Newcastle United in 2021 and the more recent merger of LIV Golf and the PGA Tour – we knew this league and nation were poised to continue making a mark of sporting dominance.

came along Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kantethe ridiculous offer to Messi and other players like Luka Modric, Busquets and more. What’s next? An application for the 2030 World Cup is undoubtedly possible. From a football perspective, I don’t know if this plan will work because the Chinese Super League and the early stages of MLS taught us that aging superstars cannot build a strong league on their own. You need a lot more. That’s the next step.

Then there is the other difficult question outside of football. What does all this mean from a societal perspective? From a political point of view? Is this blatant sportswear getting out of hand? Or are we culturally ignorant of a league and culture we know little about but are happy to criticize? Or do we just do that and go straight ahead Saudi Arabia’s record of human rights abuses And Oppression of the LGBTQ+ community and women?

Added to this is the perspective of the Saudi Arabian people, whose population is young. 70% are under 35Saudi Arabia’s goal is to attract more tourists to the country while creating a stronger economy. As in Europe and America, the heads of state and government want to consolidate their economic prosperity.

But I’ll just tell you this. Sports washing succeeds when we let it go. There is a clear plan to expand the sports industry thanks to the vast wealth of the Saudis, but at the same time it is in a society that sets limits freedom of speech And impose shocking penaltiessuch as executions, against those who break the law.

Of course we live in a hypercritical world and also in a world that pushes Whataboutism. It’s about continuing those conversations and not about lecturing, but about learning and progressing.

Tweet of the week

Give all the flowers to this child. He even had time to throw shadows at Spurs.

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