Lionel Messi, 35, said on Wednesday that he has opted to transfer to the United States after turning down a lucrative three-year offer from Saudi club Al Hilal that was reportedly worth €1.3 billion (£1.1 billion) — or around €500 million (£430 million) annually.
He will instead join Inter Miami, an MLS team that is partially owned by David Beckham.
“I’ve taken the decision that I am going to Miami,” Messi told Diario Sport and Mundo Deportivo.
“[I decided] to leave Europe. It’s true that I had offers from another European team but I didn’t even think about it because in Europe, my idea was only to go to Barcelona.”
“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barcelona, it’s time to go to MLS to live football in a different way and enjoy my day to day life more. Obviously with the same responsibility and desire to win, and to do things well, but with more calm.”
Due to their abysmal performance, Inter Miami’s head coach, former Manchester United defender Phil Neville, was fired earlier this month. Inter Miami presently sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference division and is ranked 27th overall.
Aguero, Lionel Messi’s closest friend and former teammate on the international level, claims to have kept in touch with the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner ever since he made his decision public.
Aguero admitted to ESPN Argentina that he emailed Lionel Messi a screenshot of the MLS standings and got a reply.
“I spoke to Messi yesterday,” Aguero told ESPN (via the Daily Mail).
“I sent him a message with a screenshot of the Eastern Conference standings and I said: ‘Your team is behind! You have to move up to 8th/9th!’ Messi cracked up. He said, ‘We have to make the play-offs!'”