Messi unveiled as Inter Miami star to sold-out crowd

Miami, Jul 17 (EFE) – Inter Miami unveiled soccer legend Lionel Messi and former Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets to a sold-out crowd of 20,000 despite storms and heavy rain.

During Sunday’s event, which started a couple of hours later than expected, English ex-footballer David Beckham and one of the club’s owners told the packed stadium that 10 years ago he had launched a “journey to build a new MLS (Major League Soccer) team.”

“Please forgive me for feeling a little bit emotional tonight. It really is a dream come true to welcome Lionel Messi to Inter Miami,” a beaming Beckham said.

“Leo, we are so proud you have chosen this club for the next stage of your career,” Beckham said before adding in Spanish: “Welcome to the family.”

Speaking in Spanish, Messi gave a brief speech during which he pledged to help the club continue to grow, at a time his team has gone 11 consecutive matches without a win, including eight defeats and three draws.

“I’m very happy to have chosen with my family this project, this city,” the Argentine player told fans in the DRV PNK Stadium, the headquarters of the South Florida club located in Fort Lauderdale, some 35 km north of Miami.

“Great things are going to happen,” the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner who will play with a number 10 jersey added.

“Tonight is a gift and celebration to the city that opened its arms to my family,” co-owner of the club Jorge Mas said amid rapturous applause, in a nod to the Cuban community in the American city.

“Tonight we are doing this in the rain. This is holy water! This is our moment! Our moment to change the football landscape in this country,” the Cuban-born businessman exclaimed.

Mas recalled how four years ago when Inter Miami debuted in the MLS, the club’s co-owners agreed to bring the best players in the world to America, a promise that was fulfilled Sunday night with the unveiling also of Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets, he said.

“I am very happy to be here in Miami, for me it’s a pleasure to be part of Inter Miami,” Busquets told fans in English.

Busquets’ Barcelona contract was not renewed this year which paved the way for the player’s Inter Miami signing.

He was part of Spain’s world-cup winning squad in 2010 and has made 722 appearances and earned 32 trophies with Barça.

Both players have penned deals that will keep them in the Miami club until 2025.

Messi drove his national team to victory at the 2022 Qatar World Cup. He played 778 games scoring 672 goals — both club records — and won 34 trophies with Barça including four Champions Leagues and 10 LaLiga titles. EFE


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