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Inter Miami celebrates Lionel Messi's arrival; soccer great offers warning about MLS expectations

Soccer superstar Lionel Messi was officially introduced as an Inter Miami player on Sunday night. Messi joins the club after years with Paris Saint-Germain.

Lionel Messi was officially introduced as a member of Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami on Sunday night as he comes off a World Cup win and a season with Paris Saint-Germain in France.

The David Beckham-led franchise presented Messi with a pink No. 10 jersey at the Fort Lauderdale stadium. It appeared the Argentinian soccer superstar made it through the torrential rain well enough to address the crowd and hype them up.

"I'm sure we're going to have many wonderful experiences," Messi said.


"I'm very much moved to be here in Miami, to be with you. I want to thank you, all of you, on behalf of my family, for the kindness that you have given me," he added.

Beckham praised the fans for braving the bad weather to stick around for the unveiling. Majority owner Jorge Mas also addressed the crowd.

"When David and I first met and we dreamt of what Inter Miami represents, it started off with the freedom to dream," Mas said. "And we dreamed of not only bringing elite players and the best players but the best player to ever don boots – and his name is Lionel Andrés Messi."

Messi joins a club dead last in the Eastern Conference through 22 matches. The team only has 18 points on the season and are 22 points out of the final playoff spot, behind D.C. United.

Former United star Wayne Rooney warned Messi about expectations upon joining MLS. The British soccer great said Messi won’t have the easiest time here as he learned from his own experience.


"He won’t find it easy here," Rooney told The Times of London. "It sounds mad, but players who come in find it’s a tough league. The traveling, the different conditions in different cities, and there’s a lot of energy and intensity on the pitch."

For now, it’s a party in South Florida. 

"Here we are today with a player that I think, without doubt, is not only a generational player but in my opinion the greatest of all time," MLS Commissioner Dan Garber said. "Went through a process throughout his decision-making period over the last number of months, if not the last year, to determine where he was going to play. Many of you have heard us say that we want MLS to be a league of choice, a league of choice for players, for fans, for partners, and ultimately for investors.

"And when you have the best player of all-time making Major League Soccer his league of choice, I think it’s a real testament to where MLS is and where it’s going in the years ahead."

Messi will be with Inter Miami through the 2025 season. He will make his debut Friday in a Leagues Cup match against Cruz Azul.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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