Jorge Mas, co-owner of Inter Miami, has revealed that Lionel Messi’s departure from Barcelona was not what he wanted back then.
At the same time, though, he admits he has given Messi his word that Inter Miami will play Barcelona in the near future so that the Argentina captain gets to say his final goodbye.
Messi’s departure from Barcelona was confirmed in 2021. While both parties tried hard to reach a contract agreement within La Liga’s salary cap limitations, it could not be done and eventually the seven-time Ballon d’Or ended up departing.
In August, the Argentina forward moved to Paris Saint-Germain, bringing an end to an illustrious Barça tenure. There were rumours that he might return to Catalonia this summer but the veteran forward decided to move to Inter Miami instead.
Inter Miami will play Barcelona, says Mas
Speaking in an interview with El Club del Deportista, as relayed by MARCA, the Inter Miami president has affirmed that he will do everything in his power to let Messi have a game against Barcelona.
“Messi’s departure from Barcelona was not to his liking, he could not say goodbye to his club that welcomed him as a child, and I think the circumstances were not what Lionel wanted.
“I gave him my commitment that I will do everything possible in the coming years to give him the opportunity to say goodbye to his fans in Barcelona. Inter Miami will go or we will do some kind of match,” he said.
How did Inter Miami sign Messi?
Mas also revealed his private conversation with Messi’s father Jorge, where he explained how the veteran forward ended up moving to the United States.
“I told him[Messi’s father], ‘Your son will have the opportunity to create a new legacy because he is going to be able to change a sport in a country,’ and that is given in very few opportunities to an athlete.
“I kept in constant communication with Jorge [Messi], it was four and a half years of convincing Lionel and having him decide with his family. I never lost faith. I was convinced that Lionel Messi was going to come to Miami.
“I spent a lot of time talking to Lionel about Miami, about his family, about his future and I saw that there was a great possibility of being able to close something after the World Cup, in January or February,” he revealed.
He also revealed that Inter Miami have been trying to sign Messi since 2019. That year, the club delegates had a meeting with Messi’s father and the event lasted almost three hours.
“I always aspired to sign Messi. Everyone told me I was crazy to think he would come to Inter Miami. In 2019 I arranged a meeting with Jorge Messi.
“David Beckham and I explained to Jorge for three hours the project and there I went to sell the Miami concept.
“I see the history of soccer in America with three important dates: Pele, when he arrived in 1972 at Cosmos, Beckham’s arrival in Los Angeles and Messi’s arrival in Miami,” he said.
Lastly, he also admitted that he was shocked to see the impact Messi had in America.
“MLS is different. Every time we play away from home the stadiums are full. The reception for Lionel has been extraordinary. The game in New York, with almost 30,000 fans, 80 percent of them shouting Messi’s name, there were Argentina shirts and pink Inter Miami shirts.
“I was shocked, I didn’t expect that. To see the impact Lionel has had, how he is raising interest in the league and how the world now sets its eyes on the American league. There will be a before and after Messi’s arrival in MLS,” he concluded.