Lionel Messi is now in the company of LeBron James, Simone Biles, and the US Women’s Soccer Team as TIME magazine’s athlete of the year. It is yet another honor for the Argentine World Cup winner who continues to add accomplishments and accolades to a storied career.

Not only was Messi TIME’s athlete of the year, he also sat down with the magazine to discuss the ins and outs of his move to Inter Miami, “The truth is that fortunately, I had several options on the table that were interesting, and I had to analyze them and think, even weigh them up with my family, before making the final decision to come to Miami,” Messi stated.

When discussing the possibility of returning to Barcelona, Messi admitted that he “tried to return, and it did not happen.” The former PSG star also admitted that going to the Saudi Pro League was an option but ultimately chose MLS as his final destination, still Messi was diplomatic towards the Saudis, “As the country’s tourism ambassador, it was a destination that attracted me, especially because I’ve enjoyed everything I have visited, because of how football is growing in the country and because of the effort they are putting into creating a top competition.”

2024 or bust for Inter Miami

Despite the initial buzz and Leagues Cup triumph, Inter Miami wilted down the stretch of their MLS season, new manager Tata Martino chalked it up to fatigue, new players getting adjusted to a new country and league, and Messi being injured the last month of the season.

According to Argentine and USMNT prospect Ben Cremaschi, Inter Miami really needs time, “If we have a month to prepare, we’re going to be a huge team in this league” was his statement to TIME magazine.

The club has already made significant progress and signings looking ahead to the 2024 season with talents such as Tomás Avilés and Facundo Farías, the biggest rumor could be arrival of Uruguayan international Luis Suarez, who the club has been courting since the arrival of Messi.

What’s next for Lionel Messi

2024 will be a big year for Messi, at the club level Inter Miami is hoping to build a squad where the club can win MLS Cup and even a continental title, the club’s objective is to win everything they can.

Messi is expected to lead many stats in MLS next season, in the summer Argentina will defend their Copa America title, and most likely in 2024 lock up World Cup 2026 qualification for which they are well on their way.