Lionel Messi reportedly expected to make Inter Miami debut in July
(CNN) — Argentine superstar Lionel Messi is reportedly expected to make his Inter Miami debut on July 21, club managing owner Jorge Mas told a small group of reporters Monday, according to the Miami Herald.
Inter Miami faces Mexico’s Cruz Azul in a Leagues Cup opening match that day at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
CNN has reached out to Inter Miami and Messi’s representatives for comment.
According to the Miami Herald, Inter Miami owner Jorge Mas said the club and seven-time world player of the year Messi have agreed to a deal but are still finalizing the agreement.
Messi, who led Argentina to World Cup glory last year and is widely regarded as one of soccer’s greatest ever players, said he was going to play for the Major League Soccer club.
“I made the decision that I am going to Miami,” he told Spanish outlets SPORT and Mundo Deportivo earlier this month. “I still haven’t closed it one hundred percent. I’m missing some things but we decided to continue my journey there.”
Mas told reporters that the Messi signing is “the one seminal moment” in the history of soccer in the US, according to the Miami Herald.
“I think there will always be a before and after Messi when we talk about the sport in the United States. I have a very, very strong held belief that we can create in North America and the United States if not the greatest league, one of the top two leagues in the world,” Mas said. “I cannot over emphasize the magnitude of this announcement.
“Having the world’s greatest player here is something that is significant for our league, and for the football ecosystem in the United States … Lionel Messi is coming to this country to win cups and make a difference. I think it’s incumbent upon myself and my partners in the league, the other owners, to seize the moment.”
Mas said security will be enhanced for the Argentine superstar and the team, according to the Herald.
“Players will be bussed in, going through a tunnel. All of those security protocols are already prepared both for here and away. And it’s not only for our games,” Mas said, according to the Herald.
“It’s going to be an everyday occurrence and something we witnessed and I thought handled very well when (Messi) was here with Argentina before the World Cup.”
Though Messi hasn’t yet stepped foot on the pitch for Miami, the club has already benefited from a huge boost in social media followers ahead of the highly anticipated move.
Meanwhile, ticket prices all around the league are soaring as fans eagerly await Messi’s first visit to play against their teams with his new club: in the minutes after it was reported that the Argentine would be moving to the US, ticket prices for Inter Miami matches soared by more than 1,000%.
According to resale website TickPick, the cheapest ticket for Inter Miami’s Leagues Cup match against Cruz Azul on July 21 was just $29, but in the 24 hours after news of Messi’s pending move emerged, the cheapest ticket was $329, TickPick reported on June 7 – a surge of 1,034%.