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Lionel Messi is already making memorable Miami moments


Lionel Messi has only been in Miami for a short time, but the former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain star has made lasting memories for Inter Miami already. Some context is certainly needed when considering Messi’s brief spell in Miami thus far.

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The Herons sat in last place in Major League Soccer on the day the Argentine World Cup winner arrived. Indeed, Miami are still bottom of the league standings and unlikely to make the playoffs as things stand.

Inter Miami are just in their fourth season of MLS play. In the club’s first three-and-a-half campaigns, they were the equivalent of a dumpster fire. Along with a poor on-field product, Inter Miami were reprimanded for breaking MLS financial restrictions.

Yes, Miami haven’t provided fans in South Florida – who had their original MLS team, the Miami Fusion, folded in the early 2000s – much to cheer about.

Messi has made Miami the focal point of MLS. People from around the globe are talking about the Herons – at least some people. He has also made the club a must-see team in MLS for the time being. Messi is already making memorable Miami moments, so let’s take stock of some important parts of “The Flea’s” time in the Magic City.

  1. Messi shops at PUBLIX

As the world’s No 1 soccer player, Messi’s every move was tracked by fans and the media. Never would he have enjoyed something as simple as visiting a supermarket in Spain, France, or in Argentina. In Miami, a trip to the supermarket is possible. It also makes Messi look like the average “Joe,” or Leo, living in South Florida.

A week before making his Inter Miami debut, Messi was spotted in a local supermarket shopping with his family. On his second day of living in the United States, Messi shopped in the supermarket chain, PUBLIX. Messi along with his wife Antonela, and their three sons, Thiago, Mateo, and Ciro got stuck into American life by buying different boxes of children’s cereal amongst other items.

  1. Messi joins Inter Miami WhatsApp group

It didn’t take Messi long to become part of the team by joining the Inter Miami WhatsApp group. Shortly after joining the group, Messi stunned teammates by helping striker Leonardo Campana secure tickets for the Argentine’s presentation in Fort Lauderdale.

Campana asked the group if anyone had extra tickets to Messi’s unveiling. Shortly after posing the question to the group, Messi replied, asking Campana how many he needed. The World Cup winner stepped in to sort out Campana’s ticket issue and ensure the striker got into the exclusive event.

  1. Inter Miami sign former Barcelona stars

Messi’s gravitas as a soccer superstar has increased Inter Miami’s visibility around the world. Now, players want to move to the South Florida city and play alongside him. Two former teammates have already joined Messi in Magic City and more could be on the way.

On the day Messi was presented to Miami’s fans, the club announced the signing of former Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets. The Spaniard played at Barcelona alongside Messi and is one of the club’s most honoured players in terms of silverware over the last two decades.

Busquets wasn’t the last addition, as Inter Miami signed ex-Barcelona player Jordi Alba on July 20. The duo will provide Messi with comfort and familiarity in the Inter Miami squad. The more comfortable Messi is, the better he is likely to play for the Herons.

Rumours continue to swirl that Inter Miami are in the market to sign another former Barcelona player, Luis Suarez. Any deal for Suarez would be down to the player and current club, Gremio, ending their contract. Suarez and Messi combined to create one of the most-feared attacks in football at Barcelona. MLS defences may not be able to handle the duo if they reconnect in Miami.

Coincidentally, Barcelona had attempted to buy an MLS franchise in 2008 and set up shop in Miami. The original idea was to name the team Barca Miami and to begin play in 2011. The team never came to be, and Beckham took the reins of starting a Miami club shortly thereafter.

  1. Beckham unveils the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner

On July 16, Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham officially unveiled Messi in Fort Lauderdale to fans. Until Messi’s signing, Beckham was the most famous player to compete in MLS. Thousands of soccer fans turned up for Messi’s presentation despite the rain.

The presentation was watched by many fans but not as many as Beckham declared after the event. Speaking to the media, Beckham said, “We had 3.5 billion viewers during Leo’s presentation, it was something very big.”

Despite Beckham’s inflated numbers, it was special to see the world’s most famous footballer standing next to the world’s most famous player from the previous generation. Beckham is now in charge of helping Inter Miami attract further world-class players to play next to Messi. Could Golden Balls come out of retirement to suit up? It isn’t likely but fans can dream about the legends hooking up on the pitch.

  1. Messi scores free-kick against Cruz Azul

Messi may have made his debut for Inter Miami in a meaningless cup competition against Mexico’s Cruz Azul but an estimated crowd of 21,000 fans in attendance saw him score a trademark free-kick.

The goal was significant on multiple levels. For one, it provided Inter Miami with a 2-1 win. More importantly, he scored a goal in front of a sold-out crowd and hundreds of thousands of fans watching on Apple TV.

MLS Season Pass, the Apple TV’s subscription package for the league, has struggled to sign up customers, according to insiders. Apple TV’s struggles for viewers are up to debate due to Apple and MLS not releasing subscriber numbers.

Yet, some fans signed up to MLS Season Pass just to watch Messi’s debut, excited to see the World’s No 1 soccer player in his first Miami match. From the reaction on social media, more fans signed up to the service following Messi’s winning goal, excited to watch him play for the rest of the season.

Messi’s game-winning free-kick was more than just a goal. It was the perfect advertisement for the league.

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