It’s official: Lionel Messi’s next club is MLS outfit Inter Miami. After almost two decades of shining in Europe, the era-defining Argentinian will be plying his trade in North America. But who will he be playing alongside?
“The truth is that I had offers from another European team, but I didn’t even evaluate it because in Europe my idea was only to go to Barcelona,” Messi told SPORT of his decision.
“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barca, it was time to go to the American league to experience football in a different way and enjoy the day-to-day. Obviously with the same responsibility and the same desire to want to win and to always do things well. But with more peace of mind.”
We’ve taken a look at the 10 players in Inter Miami’s squad that have experience of playing in Europe.
The right-back first caught the wider footballing world’s attention with some dynamic displays for the USMNT at the 2014 World Cup. He then signed for Tottenham for Seattle Sounders and later represented both Sunderland and Newcastle.
Yedlin made over 100 appearances for the Magpies and was a particularly prominent player during Rafael Benitez’s reign. He later turned out for Fenerbahce before returning to MLS with Inter Miami in 2022.
Another regular member of Inter Miami’s backline is Swedish centre-back McVey. He holds both an American and Swedish passport but is yet to be capped at senior international level.
The 26-year-old came up through Elfsborg’s academy and left his boyhood club to join Inter Miami in January 2022.
You might recognise Campana’s name from his time as a highly-rated prospect on the fringes of Wolves’ squad.
The forward originally joined Wolves from Ecuadorian club Barcelona SC in 2020. He was later loaned out to Portuguese club Famalicao and Swiss side Grasshopper before arriving in Miami in 2022 – Campana’s loan was made permanent in January and he now occupies one of their Young Designated Player slots.
The 22-year-old has scored three goals in 10 MLS appearances so far this season.
Leonardo Campana had himself a DAY. pic.twitter.com/C6CkhtzCdP
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 1, 2023
Having come up through Troyes academy, Jean became something of a Ligue 1 journeyman – briefly turning up at Monaco and making a couple of appearances in their memorable 2016-17 title triumph – but he was never particularly prolific, with just 12 goals from 160 games in the French top flight.
Jean joined Inter Miami in the summer of 2022, but the striker has only scored one MLS goal from 17 appearances
Born in Finland to an English father, Taylor developed his skills as a teenager in both countries, turning out in the academies of JJK Jyväskylä, Nottingham Forest and Lincoln City.
The utility man actually made one appearance for non-league Boston Town in 2013 but spent most of his senior career in Scandinavia – JJK, AIK, Tromso, Brann – before moving stateside to sign for Inter Miami last year.
Something of a modern-day MLS legend, Martinez is one of just 12 players in the competition’s history to have scored 100 goals or more.
The vast majority of those came for Atlanta United, with whom he forged a deadly partnership with Miguel Almiron as they won the MLS Cup and Eastern Conference in 2018.
The Venezuelan striker’s European history goes somewhat under the radar in comparison. He made over a century of combined appearances for Young Boys, FC Thun and Torino but only really caught fire when he crossed the Atlantic in 2017.
He left Atlanta for Inter Miami in January in what was the club’s biggest marquee signing – until Messi.
Josef Martínez scores two for Inter Miami vs. Atlanta United to become the fastest player to 100 goals in MLS history⚡️
— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 7, 2023
The experienced Dutch goalkeeper featured between the sticks for Erik ten Hag’s Go Ahead Eagles as they achieved promotion to the Eredivisie back in 2012-13.
Marsman went on to make over 100 appearances in the Dutch top flight but has lost his place as a regular start for Inter Miami after he joined in 2021. He’s turned out for their third-tier B Team and appears unlikely to be lining up alongside Messi.
Messi’s Argentinian compatriot doesn’t have a great deal of elite European experience – two stints for Swedish club AIK, for whom he featured alongside the aforementioned Taylor – but he’s a regular starter for Inter Miami.
He recently scored the match-winner in a 1-0 US Open Cup quarter-final victory over Birmingham Legion FC.
The Ukrainian centre-back won seven league titles with Shakhtar Donetsk and racked up over 200 appearances for the club. He’s also the only player in the Inter Miami squad with experience of playing in the Champions League.
Kryvtsov signed for Inter Miami in January and scored on his debut for the club, a 2-0 victory over CF Montreal.
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) February 26, 2023
CJ dos Santos
Born in Philadelphia, 22-year-old goalkeeper Dos Santos spent six years developing his skills in Benfica’s academy.
But he never broke through into first-team contention and only made a couple of appearances for the Eagles’ B Team before returning to America with Inter Miami. He’s yet to make his debut for Inter Miami but is continuing along his progression with Inter Miami II.