Lionel Messi has made an immediate impact in MLS from the moment he joined Inter Miami, giving the league unprecedented visibility. However, he didn’t get to play enough games to take center stage in the end of season awards.

The Argentine superstar finished second in the Newcomer of the Year category, but he didn’t even make the MVP conversation. It makes sense, since Leo only played six games in the regular season, with one goal and two assists. Therefore, it wasn’t exactly a surprise not to find him in the 2023 MLS Best XI.

The best team of the season is made up by Roman Burki (St. Louis City), Matt Miazga (Cincinnati), Tim Parker (St. Louis City), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville), Luciano Acosta (Cincinnati), Thiago Almada (Atlanta United), Hector Herrera (Houston Dynamo), Hany Mukhtar (Nashville), ‘Cucho’ Hernandez (Columbus Crew), Denis Bouanga (Los Ángeles FC), and Giorgos Giakoumakis (Atlanta United).

Journalists, MLS players and club technical staffs had their say in the selection of these players. Messi moved to the US in July, just before the beginning of the Leagues Cup. When the MLS season resumed, Leo had to miss games due to muscle fatigue.

Messi still made a huge impact in the US soccer landscape

Regardless of his limited playing time and the fact that Inter Miami didn’t make the playoffs, Messi still left his mark in MLS in just a few months. First of all, he led the Herons to their first ever trophy in the 2023 Leagues Cup, with 10 goals in seven games.

But it’s safe to say his biggest impact came off the field. Ticket prices for Inter Miami games – both home and away – went through the roof, as fans were willing to do whatever it took to watch him live. In fact, seats were available for much less in games where Messi was ruled out.

In addition, MLS Season Pass subscribers soared after the Argentine star joined the South Florida. The league also revealed Messi already leads MLS in jersey sales.

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Messi has high ambitions for 2024

Messi couldn’t do much this season, as the club was practically sunk in the East standings when he joined the league. But the Argentine star is all about succeeding, which is why he’s already looking forward to turning things around next year.

Like I said at the beginning, I never doubted that we were going to enjoy our time here, and now I have no doubt that next year is going to be even better,” Messi said before Inter Miami’s last game in 2023, which was a friendly against New York City. “We are going to keep enjoying, keep winning titles and I hope you can support us like you have since I arrived. It has been amazing and next year we have important tournaments to face together.

Inter Miami head into 2024 with high expectations, as they will take part in the Concacaf Champions League and Copa Interamericana apart from the MLS season.