Clubs

Inter Miami’s chief business officer (CBO) has hinted at a move for Lionel Messi as the Major League Soccer side look to become a “reference point for football in the U.S.”.

Messi’s contract with Paris Saint-Germain expires next year, and reports have linked him with Inter Miami, the team co-owned by David Beckham.

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The Argentina forward would be the most high-profile player to sign for a team in MLS, and, in an interview with El Mundo Deportivo, Inter Miami CBO Xavier Asensi suggested they would target Messi.

When asked whether signing players such as Messi was an objective for the club, Asensi said: “Yes, with some caveats. You can’t compare Leo Messi with any other player, he’s different. Having said that, what we’re looking for is to be the reference point for football in the U.S. and to do that, the important thing is the players and the show that you can put on.

“To do so, you need the best players and having them is a genuine objective at this club. In terms of Leo Messi, there’s him and then there’s everyone else.”

Asensi, who was previously an executive at Barcelona, was also asked whether it was realistic to expect Messi to sign for Inter Miami.

“It depends on him and what he wants,” Asensi said. “We want to have the best players in the world and I think Messi is the best in history. From there it’s up to him. We want to be the reference point for football in the U.S., that’s one of the objectives of the organisation.”

Barca play Inter Miami in the first game of their United States preseason tour on Wednesday, an occasion which Asensi said would be “spectacular” given the Blaugrana‘s global reach.

“From an emotional point of view it’s marvellous and professionally it’s exceptional,” Asensi said. “Barca are, if not the biggest, one of the three biggest clubs in the world for sure, and clubs are the ones that capitalise on the passion for football.

“I don’t know of any fans of FIFA or UEFA. In international football everyone supports their country but clubs don’t have any borders, they go everywhere. And, in terms of clubs, Barca are among the biggest, looking at the numbers.

“Emotionally, it’s the biggest thing for me. To have them here, for the people of Miami, is spectacular.”

Messi scored 11 goals in 34 games in his first season for PSG after joining from Barca after his contract expired. He helped his new side to win Ligue 1 but they were knocked out of the Champions League round-of-16 in embarrassing fashion by Real Madrid.

The 35-year-old had spent all of his career prior to that with Barca, where he scored 672 goals in 778 appearances and won a host of trophies.

Messi is targeting a first World Cup win with Argentina later this year in Qatar. He is his country’s all-time top scorer with 86 goals in 162 appearances and last year broke Pele’s record for the most goals scored for a South American nation.

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