Eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi now calls South Florida home and has taken the club to a level of global recognition

Eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi now calls South Florida home and has taken the club to a level of global recognition

Lionel Messi, the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner, now calls South Florida home and has catapulted the club to a level of global recognition they could only have dreamed of six years ago.


David Beckham and a group of investors bought Inter Miami in 2021Credit: AP

Becks managed to lure footie superstar Lionel Messi to Chase StadiumCredit: GETTY

Beckham has huge plans for the MLS franchiseCredit: GETTY

But Beckham, fellow owner Jorge Mas and all involved in this frenzied football club are not stopping there.

Having played at Manchester United and Real Madrid, Beckham knows what it means to be a truly big club.

Javier Morales, the assistant manager who has been with the club since the start and played against Beckham when he played for LA Galaxy, said: “When I first spoke to David, he said he thinks this could be a big club.

“Obviously he came from Man United and he used to play for big teams. That is his idea.

“He wants Inter Miami to be not just a top team not just in the country but also in the world.”

 

Their ambitions are, in a very American and Miami fashion, straightforward and stratospheric. Inter Miami are aiming to become the New York Yankees of football.

With the stardust of Messi, Beckham and the celebrities who are regulars at their Chase Stadium – Inter Miami want their pop of pink to be as recognisable as the pinstripes of the Yankees.

And when you see Messi, having dazzled in the Major League Soccer season opener on Wednesday night, hugging Hollywood star Will Smith as he heads down the tunnel at half-time it is hard to say it is not possible.


Hollywood superstar Will Smith was in attendance for Inter Miami’s midweek clash with Real Salt LakeCredit: Instagram

Xavier Asensi, one of the top figures at the club who joined after a decade on the Barcelona board, said: “Football is global, Messi and Beckham.

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“It is a mosaic and a place that embraces and welcomes people from all over the world.

“You have the two largest languages in use around the world here.

“All this combined creates this aura, which gives a power if you know how to action it that the sky is the limit.

“Do you like baseball? I don’t. But do you have a cap with the NY of the Yankees? How cool is that?

 

“For me, that is the potential we have. We have the potential of the sexiness, the brand that can be a fashion.

“We have that potential. In order to unlock that, only the best are enough.

David Beckham recently secured the services of Luis Suarez for Inter MiamiCredit: EPA

Becks is loving the latest chapter of his football careerCredit: AP

“We need to surround ourselves with the best people to unlock the potential that we have as a brand.

“This is not just football, we can go bigger and better.”

The attitude of only the best being enough has seen Beckham’s club chase not only Messi but a trio of his former teammates from Barcelona.

 

Luis Suarez was unveiled by the ex-England captain along with a fireworks display ahead of their win over Real Salt Lake, with Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, who struggled somewhat, also starting.

Landing Messi was a statement of intent, proving they can compete not only with European clubs but also the emerging threat of Saudi Arabia.

And more will follow. World Cup winner Antoine Greizmann is expected to join the club in the not-too-distant future, potentially following Messi as the biggest name once the Argentine calls it a day.

Asensi said: “More players from Barcelona? Yeah, why not? What we want is good players and if they are coming from Barcelona, perfect.”

 

Messi made Inter Miami the most Googled sports club in the world last year and helped them embark on a world tour across pre-season, something unprecedented in MLS.

A first League title is the expectation this season, but Beckham’s ambitions go way beyond MLS and even Messi.

 

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