It is official. Inter Miami's manager Phil Neville confirmed in an interview with The Times that the MLS club is interested in signing Lionel Messi next summer. The Argentina international and 2022 World Cup winner will be a free agent in July with his current contract expiring in June 2023.
The MLS season is about to kick off with the first games scheduled for Sunday. The transfer window will remain open only until April 24, but with Messi's contract with PSG ending in June 2023, he would be eligible to join the MLS team as a free agent come July if he doesn't sign an extension to remain in Paris.
"I'm not going to deny [it and say] there isn’t truth in the speculation that we’re interested in Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets,” Neville says. “Since I joined Miami, I think we’ve been linked with every single top player in world football. From Sergio Ramos, Dani Alves, Robert Lewandowski, Willian, Cesc Fabregas, Luis Suarez... all of them you can rattle off."
The former England international, Manchester United icon, and current coach of Inter Miami, in the position since Jan. 18, 2021, already signed Gonzalo Higuain and former PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi to play at his club in past campaigns.
Phil Neville: "Inter Miami has been linked with every single top player in world football"
Neville promised that Inter Miami supporters should be "really excited" about the months ahead, adding that he "wants to bring the best players in the world to this football club." No need to mention that he kept on going by acknowledging that "Messi and Busquets are the two players that stand out more in recent years," adding that "they’re great players who would still be a massive benefit to this organization."
"For MLS, (bringing Messi and Busquets to the league) would be a game-changer,” Neville concluded.
PSG is facing a difficult conundrum when it comes to keeping Messi in tow or letting him go for free. Obviously, those are the only two options because Messi won't be sold to any club in Europe and beyond even if he extends his contract with Paris.
The problem for Paris Saint-Germain, though, is the lack of effort shown by Messi after becoming a World Cup champion in Qatar last December. After putting together a masterful first half of the season with PSG, Messi's return to team competition has been rather awful.
The little Argentine does little more than walk around waiting for the ball to reach his feet, and even on those rare ocassions he has barely delivered the goods for PSG. Of course, he can still work out some magical moments such as the one at the end of last Sunday's game when his free-kick goal earned Paris three more points and Christophe Galtier a life-saving victory.
The millions Messi is bagging are coming from the rich coffers of Nasser Al-Khelaifi, though after two unsuccessful years in the French capital (no Champions League won nor in sight, back-to-back Coupe de France eliminations) his addition to the payroll was an arguably wrong decision by the Qatari owners of PSG.
If Al-Khelaifi really wants to bring an end to the "Bling-Bling Era" of Paris Saint-Germain, he would do well by ridding the club of Neymar, Messi, and all remnants from an era that has not really brought many long-chased triumphs to the Parisian entity of late.