Lionel Messi's Inter Miami debut against Cruz Azul will be 2023 Leagues Cup opener as tournament schedule is adjusted to put full focus on Argentine superstar

Lionel Messi Inter MiamiGetty/GOAL
  • Argentine leaving PSG as a free agent
  • Taking on new challenge in the United States
  • Set to make his bow in new competition

WHAT HAPPENED? The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is expected to make his bow for new MLS employers against Cruz Azul on July 21. That highly-anticipated contest will take place at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, with Messi getting an early chance to showcase his talents to the Florida locals.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Inter Miami’s meeting with Mexican opposition has been moved forward to be the opening game in the inaugural Leagues Cup, alongside a clash involving Orlando City and Houston Dynamo. The two games will kick-off at the same time (8pm ET), ensuring that as many eyes as possible will be on Messi in what will be his debut for the third club side of his career – following spells at Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

Asked when Messi will be ready to feature for Inter Miami, sporting director Chris Henderson said: "With regard to Leo, terms are agreed, but we're working on the paperwork with Major League Soccer, so those are going to take time to finish, but we hope that there's a time in mid, late July that he's ready to go."

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AND WHAT'S MORE: The Leagues Cup has stated that the decision to move a fixture involving 2022 World Cup winner Messi has been made to ensure an optimal experience for all fans in the stadium, as well as those tuning in to follow broadcasts from afar.


Lionel Messi Inter MiamiGetty/GOALLionel Messi World Cup trophyGetty

WHAT NEXT? The Leagues Cup will involve all 47 clubs from Liga MX and MLS, with Messi set to be one of the stars of the show following the revelation that he will be heading to the United States on a lucrative contract that sees him link up with a franchise co-owned by former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy star David Beckham.