Lionel Messi officially joins Inter Miami

Soccer great Lionel Messi signed for Major League Soccer (MLS) club Inter Miami on Saturday, the club announced.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, who is under contract with the club until the end of the 2025 MLS season, said he was “very excited,” while co-owner David Beckham described the signing as a “dream come true.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity and together we will continue to build this beautiful project,” Messi, who won the World Cup with Argentina last year, said in a statement. “The idea is to work together to achieve the objectives we set, and I’m very eager to start helping here in my new home.”

The 36-year-old’s expected Inter Miami debut is scheduled for July 21 against LIGA MX side, Cruz Azul, in the opening match of the Leagues Cup.

“Ten years ago, when I started my journey to build a new team in Miami, I said that I dreamt of bringing the greatest players in the world to this amazing city. Players who shared the ambition I had when I joined LA Galaxy to help grow football in the USA and to build a legacy for the next generation in this sport that we love so much,” former Real Madrid and Manchester United star Beckham said in a statement.

“Today that dream came true. I couldn’t be prouder that a player of Leo’s caliber is joining our club, but I am also delighted to welcome a good friend, an amazing person, and his beautiful family to join our Inter Miami community. The next phase of our adventure starts here, and I can’t wait to see Leo take to the pitch.”

Inter Miami’s part-owner Jorge Mas told Spanish publication El Pais earlier this month in an interview that Messi’s contract is worth between $50 to $60 million per year.

According to multiple reports, Messi’s new deal includes an option for part-ownership of the club and a cut of revenue from new subscribers to Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass streaming service.

Messi to Inter Miami: Why MLS' dream signing could become a reality | US

After a month of anxious anticipation, Inter Miami CF on Sunday introduced new signing Messi to a sold-out crowd at DRV PNK Stadium. The Argentina soccer star had inked a multiyear contract with the club on Saturday, becoming the highest-profile signing to hit MLS since David Beckham joined LA Galaxy in 2007.

“I am very happy to have chosen to come to this city with my family, to have chosen this project, and I have no doubt that we are going to enjoy it very much,” Messi said after his introduction. “We are going to have a good time, and great things are going to happen. Thank you very much, thank you all for this day.

“I can’t wait to start training to compete. I feel the same desire I’ve always had to compete, to really want to win and to help it [Miami] continue to grow.”

Beckham was the first star to join MLS in the prime of his career after spending most of it playing top-tier soccer in Europe. Now a co-owner of Inter Miami, Beckham addressed the gravity of this moment, which was a decade in the making.

“Ten years ago, I started my journey to build a new MLS team,” Beckham said. “I said then, I dreamt of bringing the best players in the world to South Florida and to the great city to Miami. Players who shared our ambition to grow soccer in this country … We are so happy that you are all here to celebrate this incredible moment.

“So please forgive me for feeling a little bit emotional tonight. It truly is a dream come true to welcome Lionel Messi to Inter Miami … Bienvenido a La Familia.”

A two-hour weather delay stalled the event, with heavy rain pelting the stadium grounds and lightning illuminating the sky.

But no one was going to miss this. And the fans were treated to a double feature, as Messi’s former Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets also was introduced as an Inter Miami player after signing his deal to join the club