Lionel Messi is likely to make his Inter Miami debut off the bench tonight.
The 36-year-old was unveiled by the MLS club last weekend and has been training this week as he improves his fitness.
Sergio Busquets, who joined Miami earlier this week, is also expected to feature in the League Cup match against Cruz Azul, but Messi’s former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba, who completed his transfer on Thursday, will not be involved after becoming a father this week.
Messi’s debut has been highly anticipated since he announced in early June that he had decided to move to MLS following his exit from Paris Saint-Germain, despite interest from Barcelona and Saudi side Al-Hilal.
Ticket prices for Messi’s first match with Inter Miami have skyrocketed since his move was announced. The resale prices of tickets for Wednesday’s game against Cruz Azul range from $200 to $5,000.
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Messi completed his transfer to Inter Miami earlier this month and signed a two-and-a-half-season contract, with the option to extend for another year in the 2026 season.
He joined former coach Tata Martino at the club after his appointment as head coach in June.
Messi took part in his first training session in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday, alongside Busquets.
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The Making of Messi: Special Audio Series by the athlete
To celebrate Messi’s move to Miami, we’ve created A three-part audio special, The Making of Messi. The trip tells how each road ended up pointing to Florida.
In addition to the ups and downs on the field, we chart his complex relationship with his native Argentina and illustrate the nuances of the unique deal that brought him to Miami – from stocks to jersey sales to Saudi Arabia.
It features James Horncastle at his best, Michael Cox with his unrivaled tactical vision, and the local expertise of Felipe Cardenas and Paul Tenorio as we get to the heart of what makes Messi tick on and off the pitch.
You can listen to files ‘The Making of Messi’ in its entirety, for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcast. Just search for this address or the athlete“Go Deeper” Documentary Synopsis.
Do you think you know Messi? Test yourself with a quiz of 20 questions
How can I watch Inter Miami matches on TV/Live?
All Inter Miami matches will be available to stream worldwide (with Some exceptions) through Apple TV devices MLS Season Pass Subscription service. In the US, some matches will also be broadcast on Fox / FS1 / Fox Deportes and League Cup matches will be available on Univision / Unimas / TUDN.
For the first two matches of the Premier League Cup, the Season Pass will contain “Enhanced productionIt “includes” 18 cameras, a Steadicam, four super slow-motion cameras, a Skycam, a drone, sideline reporters in Spanish and English, a one-hour pre-show on location with features, interviews and expert analysis, and a post-game show to wrap things up. “
Why did the Messi deal take so long to complete?
Analysis by Paul Tenorio, Pablo Maurer, and Tom Bogert
Due to MLS’ single-entity structure, players sign contracts with the league, not individual teams.
But unlike regular MLS contracts, Messi wasn’t a simple order. For a legendary player and potentially league-altering signing, both MLS and Inter Miami have innovated in compensation to ensure he is not lured to Saudi Arabia.
Messi’s contract includes an option to buy a stake in Inter Miami, and part of the deal also entails discussions with Apple regarding revenue sharing on new MLS Season Pass subscriptions. A source familiar with the negotiations said the Apple deal would be based on revenue paid by new international subscribers.
There was also the compensation structure itself, and the tax implications of how the contract was drafted, as well as things like marketing and image rights. These negotiations come down to subtle levels, such as the entities that own the rights to the Messi name and No. 10 for use in various products, for example.
How much does Messi earn and who pays it?
Messi’s deal is worth around $50-60 million annually, although that includes the value of his stake in Inter Miami, which will be activated after his time with the club.
In addition, Messi will receive additional income through MLS partners.
He’ll get a portion of the new MLS Season Pass subscriptions on Apple TV, as well as compensation agreements from Adidas (a longtime sponsor and kit maker for MLS and all 29 clubs) and Fanatics.
Portions of the Adidas and Apple deal are functionally separate from the base salary he would earn entirely as an MLS player. The MLS Players Association will release all players’ salary details later this year, as it did a few months ago. Messi’s number will be eagerly anticipated.
All parties see the deal as a blessing; Apple and MLS signed a 10-year, $2.5 billion agreement this spring. Apple also revealed a four-part documentary series chronicling Messi’s five World Cup appearances that will air on Apple TV+.
Meanwhile, Adidas has partnered with MLS since the league’s inception in 1996. The two sides renewed their partnership earlier this year, signing a six-year, $830 million extension that runs through 2030. The German manufacturer supplies kits for all 29 MLS teams and also designs the league’s official ball and is the league’s official shoe sponsor.
Messi himself has a long-standing relationship with Adidas, which began in 2006. In 2017, he signed a lifetime shoe sponsorship deal with the company.
(Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
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