New signing Lionel Messi has been formally offered to cheering crowds at Inter Miami’s DRV PNK Stadium.
A sold-out crowd of about 20,000 waited via downpours and lightning to see the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner given a quantity 10 shirt.
In a short deal with in Spanish, Messi, 36, thanked supporters and stated he had the “identical want” he at all times has.
The World Cup-winning Argentina ahead joins the Main League Soccer (MLS) membership on a deal until the end of 2025.
He will likely be reunited with defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets – with whom he performed at Barcelona – who has additionally signed for Miami till 2025.
Busquets, too, was formally unveiled throughout Sunday evening’s occasion.
Messi entered the pitch through an enormous catwalk and was launched as “America’s quantity 10, the world’s greatest quantity 10”.
Seven-time Tremendous Bowl winner Tom Brady and four-time NBA champion Stephen Curry additionally welcomed him to the USA in video messages.
“I actually wish to begin coaching, to compete,” Messi stated. “I’ve the identical want that I at all times needed to compete, to wish to win, to assist the membership proceed to develop.
“I’m very blissful to have chosen to come back to play on this metropolis with my household, to decide on this challenge and I’ve little doubt that we’re going to take pleasure in it so much.
“We’re going to have time and excellent issues are going to occur.”
Don Garber, commissioner of Main League Soccer, stated somebody of Messi’s standing selecting to play within the league was a “transformational second”, and he hoped the signing would “shout to the world that it is a soccer nation”.
Garber added: “It has been so a few years of growing this league into turning into a participant on the worldwide stage, so it is a very momentous evening for us.”
The DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale is Inter Miami’s momentary stadium and has a capability of 18,000, making it the joint-smallest in MLS together with San Jose Earthquakes’ PayPal Park in California.
A short lived grandstand has been erected to permit extra followers into the bottom.
Messi left French champions Paris St-Germain on the finish of the 2022-23 season after scoring 32 targets in 75 video games throughout a two-year spell.
He turned down profitable presents from different international locations to play within the US – and that is the primary time he’ll play for a non-European membership.
Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham hailed Messi’s signing as a “dream come true”.
“Leo, we’re so proud that you’ve got chosen our membership for the subsequent stage in your profession,” he stated.
Inter Miami’s main proprietor, American billionaire Jorge Mas, referred to as Messi “the most effective participant ever to don boots”.
Messi is predicted to be out there to play for Miami towards LIGA MX aspect Cruz Azul on 21 July of their opening match of the Leagues Cup.
He reunites together with his former Barca and Argentina boss Gerardo Martino after the 60-year-old was appointed supervisor in June following the sacking of Phil Neville.
‘Plenty of naysayers and doubters, however Miami was in a position to make it occur’
The arrival of Messi within the US has been met with feverish anticipation by the followers of Inter Miami, who solely began enjoying within the Jap Convention of the MLS in 2020.
“It is a dream come true for anyone to have the most effective participant on the planet at their residence workforce,” stated one supporter. “I am dreaming proper now.”
One other fan stated that whereas she did know and care in regards to the membership, it was Argentina legend Messi who was the principle attraction.
“[Messi] is every little thing,” she stated. “The emotion that he brought about us when he gained the World Cup is indescribable. This implies every little thing to us.”
The possession had been additionally praised by followers for his or her dedication to bringing an enormous signing to the south Florida aspect.
“They’ve been making guarantees and preserving guarantees,” stated a fan. “They promised world-class soccer they usually have been in a position to present it. They’ve been in a position to ship.
“We’re grateful that Messi has been in a position to decide on Miami. Plenty of naysayers and loads of doubters, however Miami was in a position to make it occur.”
In June, experiences stated Messi was supplied a deal by Saudi Arabian membership Al-Hilal value $1.5bn over three years.
With him opting to affix Inter Miami as a substitute, one fan felt Messi’s signing may take soccer in America “to the subsequent stage”.
He stated: “Very similar to when Pele joined the New York Cosmos [in 1975], identical factor. Carry him up.”