Help is on the way for Inter Miami and David Beckham, as according to DirecTV Sports journalist based in Spain Álex Candal, Lionel Messi is set to sign with the struggling MLS side to begin play in the summer of 2023. Not only that, but equally as eye raising is that the all-time leading Argentine national team goal scorer would buy a 35% stake in the club, becoming the most recognizable MLS owner, above fellow co-owner David Beckham.
Candal went on to report that Messi has already been given an MLS contract and that according to one of his primary sources, the contract has circulated. According to Candal, the contract would be signed as early as August, but did not specify which contract would be signed, the playing one or the agreement to become an owner, or if it’s an all-in-one document.
The key word here is calm, many celebrities and big-name sports stars have bought a stake in MLS teams recently, but Messi would be without question the biggest name in the sport to throw his hat in the ring of Major League Soccer. It is also not the first-time big-name players have been reportedly linked to MLS with unique deals, here are a few other big-name players to MLS with strange conditions to get them to sign.
Big time players linked with MLS
When Major League Soccer kicked off in 1996 the biggest name the league wanted to get, especially the NY/NJ MetroStars (now Red Bulls), was Roberto Baggio. In 1998, after the World Cup in France it was reported that Baggio was finally going to sign and become the league’s first true multi-million-dollar salary player, the deal never materialized past reports.
One player MLS did sign in 1997 was Swiss international Alain Sutter, who played for the Dallas Burn from 1997-98 until he suffered a career ending injury. According to MLS legend, originally Sutter wanted to sign with MLS under the condition that he would play a season in a different city. The league nixed that idea, but Sutter did sign the league’s biggest contract at the time.
Mexican international Jorge Campos signed his deal with the L.A Galaxy, but almost pulled out at the last minute unless one of his demands was not met, that demand was a brand-new Ferrari.
Former Argentine national team player Claudio Caniggia was linked to the MetroStars in 1999 and was very close to signing but a mandatory drug test was seen as an insult from the Caniggia camp, and they pulled out. Caniggia would go to Scotland and revitalize his career making the 2002 Argentina World Cup squad.
Then of course there is David Beckham who signed with MLS in late 2006 to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Beckham was offered a deal which allowed him to eventually be a team owner in the future, that team would eventually become Inter Miami.