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Messi follows in Beckham's footsteps


Highlights: Miami offers the Argentine star a way to focus his future when he hangs up his boots. The arrival of Lionel Messi to the league is now understood in a context of consolidation. Messi has also agreed with Miami and the North American league a percentage of the sales of Adidas, which dresses all teams in the competition. Extrapolated to Spain and a similar scenario, it would be difficult to imagine that a few years ago any Real Madrid fan was giving the Barcelona star's money to play in America.

Miami offers the Argentine star a way to focus his future when he hangs up his boots as the Englishman, who has maximized profits with his alliance with MLS, focused on.

In the summer of 2007, David Beckham completed the move from Madrid to Los Angeles. He had received, as explained in a statement, an offer of renewal with the white club for two years, but with 32 years he decided to commit to LA Galaxy, one of the ten franchises that founded Major League Soccer in 1996, an initiative germinated as part of the commitment acquired by the North American federations to host the World Cup two years earlier. Soccer never had it easy in the United States. MLS arrived to fill an ominous void of a decade without a domestic league, but in 2007, eleven years after getting the ball rolling, it had barely managed to capture three more franchises. In 2013, when Beckham hung up his boots, there were already 19. A couple of weeks ago it was announced the arrival of number 30, San Diego, the fourth team based in California. The arrival of Lionel Messi to the league is now understood in a context of consolidation and with another World Cup in between, which will be played in 2026 with Miami as one of the venues. The Argentine star would then be 39 years old and at that time the link with his new club would end, in which, however, he will have release clauses at the end of each season.

A superficial look at that contract signed by Beckham in 2007 warned about the decrease in his income compared to what Real Madrid paid him. "Beckham is going to Hollywood to become a half-actor," said Ramón Calderón, then president of the white club. But there was more. The footballer took a percentage for tickets, merchandising and even sales revenue on match days, so that every time someone ate a hot dog in the stands of the Galaxy stadium was feeding the current account of the star of the team. A clause, a clause of Beckham's link with the Galaxy and the MLS opened the possibility of choosing to create a new franchise for the League for a price of 25 million euros, a bargain if you consider that the owners of San Diego have just paid 463 million euros to obtain the right to participate in the League. Forbes points out that the value of a franchise like Los Angeles Football Club, which premiered five years ago, shoots up to one billion euros.

David Beckham hits the ball in a match during his time with the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS. Mark J. Terrill (AP)

In October 2013, the BBC reported that Beckham was about to settle as a team owner in Miami and that he handled offers from up to twelve investment groups willing to associate, including one integrated by LeBron James, then emblem of Miami Heat, in the NBA. Beckham defines himself as "stubborn and patient." The construction of the team took four years since it was confirmed in February 2014 that he would exercise his option until he was granted the franchise in Miami. And from there we had to wait two more seasons before the new team took the field. On January 30, 2018, Lionel Messi launched a post on Instagram to greet the arrival of the project, congratulate Beckham, wish him good luck and leave a wink: "Who knows if in a few years you can call me ...".

The phone rang to Messi in the middle of the fourth season of the short history of Inter Miami, built from the alliance of Beckham with the Mas brothers, Jorge and José, businessmen of Cuban origin associated with Amber Capital, an investment fund that a year ago acquired the majority shareholding of Zaragoza and has also settled in the French league to take Lens to the Champions League. The Italian Padova and the historic Colombian Millonarios complete their investment in football. Amber is also a shareholder of PRISA, the publishing group of EL PAÍS.

In that scenario it does not seem complicated to imagine that Messi travels a path similar to that of Beckham to try to guide his future when he does not run after a ball. This week, The Athletic alluded to several sources confirming that the option of accessing a La Liga team's percentage was on the table for negotiations. Or perhaps pilot a landing in Las Vegas, a destination longed for by MLS. Apart from this journey to do, the options to form alliances and obtain income have multiplied compared to 16 years ago. Contexts change. Thus, if Beckham charged for each puppy or hamburger, the Argentine star will do so for each television access under the agreement that MLS has just signed with Apple's streaming platform for ten years and almost 3,000 million euros. Messi has also agreed with Miami and the North American league a percentage of the sales of Adidas, which dresses all the teams in the competition under a contract that ends in 2030. Extrapolated to Spain, and in a similar hypothetical scenario, it would be difficult to imagine that a few years ago any Real Madrid fan who bought a shirt of his team was giving money to the Barcelona star. But that's America.

At the end there is also football. Because Messi still dresses short. This summer will come to a team in trouble, last in the Eastern Conference, the competition is divided in two, when the campaign is at its equator. Inter Miami has just five wins in 16 games and Beckham, who is described on the club's website as owner and president of operations, has just signed the dismissal of his friend Phil Neville. On the bench is an interim, the Argentine Javier Morales, who at the dawn of the club had been integrated into his academy.

General view of Inter Miami's stadium at a home match in May 2023.Lauren Sopourn (Getty Images)

The future of Messi's new team does not know a straight line. On March 1, 2020, he played the first game in his history in Los Angeles, the second was in Washington and the pandemic prevented him from making his debut at home. That first campaign was closed in a bubble, with the team dropped in the previous play-off elimination and, in addition, with a severe sanction that expires at the end of this year and that weighs down its investment in players other than the three that MLS allows outside the salary cap. Inter bypassed that rule in the signing of world champion Blaise Matuidi, who made just 16 appearances for the team. At this point, the team plays in a provisional venue, Fort Lauderdale, 40 kilometers from Miami, where it is expected that in two years a new coliseum will be built, Freedom Park, with an initial capacity for 25,000 spectators, double the average number of followers who follow the team today. In Miami failed a first project in the MLS, the Fusion, who hired the Colombian Carlos Valderrama as a lure for the fans, barely lasted four years and, between debts, threw the closure in 2001 after winning their conference and falling in the semifinals of the competition.

Messi will arrive in time to try to lift the team in MLS and help it in the US Open Cup, a K.O. competition that grants a place in the Concacaf Champions League and in which Inter Miami has sneaked into the semifinals after eliminating rivals from lower categories. At the end of August they will face Cincinnati, the leader of their conference in the league competition. He will need reinforcements for a squad in which the experience of his two central defenders, the Canadian World Cup player Kamal Miller and the Ukrainian Sergiy Kryvtsov, present in the last European Championship, stands out. Josef Martínez, a Venezuelan with an ephemeral past in Torino, is the reference in attack of a team that does not even approach the current level of Messi, who has just closed the season at PSG with 21 goals and 20 assists in 41 games, and who could be accompanied by a former teammate. Sergio Busquets, Luis Suárez or Jordi Alba are in the spotlight.

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Source: elparis

All sports articles on 2023-06-08

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