Lionel Messi Set To Make His Inter Miami Debut In Leagues Cup Opener Against Cruz Azul

Jul 21, 2023, 3:58 PM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP)Lionel Messi’s debut gameday with Inter Miami has arrived.

Messi is expected to play Friday night when Inter Miami takes on Cruz Azul in a Leagues Cup match at his new home stadium. Team officials say all tickets — about 21,000, in a newly expanded stadium — have been sold, though thousands were available for resale on secondary markets Friday morning.

It’s unclear how much Messi, a World Cup champion for Argentina and someone who Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham calls the best player ever, will be on the field in his debut. He signed a 2-1/2 year contract with Inter Miami this past weekend, and the deal will pay him between $50 million and $60 million annually. That will almost certainly work out to more than $1 million per match.

He was introduced to his new home fans on Sunday and officially trained for the first time as a member of the club Tuesday.

Messi made the decision in June to join Inter Miami and come to Major League Soccer. He considered a return to Barcelona, the club with whom he spent almost the entirety of his career, after spending the last two seasons with Paris Saint-Germain.

But Inter Miami and MLS found a way to land the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner in Messi, setting the stage for an unprecedented era for the club that has largely sputtered during its first four seasons.

Leagues Cup is a tournament between clubs from MLS and Liga MX, the top Mexican league. Cruz Azul won the inaugural version of this event in 2019.

RELATED: Lionel Messi Expected To Make His Inter Miami Debut July 21

Neither club has enjoyed much success this season. Inter Miami has the fewest points in the MLS standings; Cruz Azul is the only team in the Mexican league yet to record a standings point through the season’s first three matches.

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Lionel Messi Set To Make His Inter Miami Debut In Leagues Cup Opener Against Cruz Azul