Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar said he already knew Lionel Messi was going to join Major League Soccer (MLS) side Inter Miami, and predicted the American top flight is set to change because of the popularity the Argentinian superstar will attract.
Messi, 35, announced last week that he plans to take his talents to South Beach after his contract with French champions PSG expires at the end of June.
“I already knew… because Messi is one of my best friends, it’s a gift that football has given me to have the opportunity to meet him, play with him and then establish such a beautiful friendship,”
“I told him he’s going to be very happy for the city, for the lifestyle and for the opportunity to live and play here in Miami.
“I’m sure Leo is going to change the league in the United States. I think the league is going to be much more popular, so everybody has to take advantage and enjoy watching him play, because unfortunately nothing lasts forever.”Neymar told ESPN Brazil on Sunday.
The Brazil international and Messi’s former Barcelona and PSG teammate visited basketball player Jimmy Butler in Florida ahead of last Friday’s Game 4 in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals.
Butler, a six-time NBA All-Star, also said he is excited about Messi’s move to Miami.
“Now that he’s here, I think all the football fans around the world are going to come and get a chance to see him compete. I’m glad he’s here,”He told reporters last week.
Messi is not the only football powerhouse heading to Miami.
Fifa, football’s world governing body, is negotiating to lease as much as 60,000 square feet in upscale Coral Gables, a city in the Miami-Dade County, according to a person with knowledge of the plans.
The Zurich-based organisation is bolstering its presence ahead of the 2026 World Cup when Miami and 15 cities across the US, Mexico and Canada host games. It is likely to make Miami its long-term US base after the tournament, providing proximity to sponsors and offering a gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino is expected to relocate to Miami in the run-up to the event, just as he did in Doha before the 2022 Qatar World Cup which Messi’s Argentina won, another person said.
Infantino helped grow Fifa’s revenues to US$7.5 billion (S$10 billion) in the last World Cup cycle. Fifa predicts it will generate US$11 billion in the 2023-26 period as it expands the World Cup to a 48-team format.