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Lionel Messi and David Beckham: The superstar bromance that has transformed Inter Miami into a MLS superpower overnight


Lionel Messi is the new face of MLS. That was always going to be the case when he confirmed Inter Miami as his next destination after leaving Paris Saint-Germain, but he showed the move is not just a marketing stunt in his first two competitive outings for his new club.

Messi marked his debut in a Leagues Cup clash with Cruz Azul by scoring a trademark 94th-minute free-kick to snap Miami's 11-match winless streak, and followed that memorable introduction up with a stunning brace in a 4-0 rout against Atlanta United. Messi fever has taken hold in America, and no one is enjoying it more than Miami co-owner David Beckham.

When Miami were awarded a MLS expansion spot in 2018, Beckham pledged to build the best team in the competition, before adding: "I think Miami needs a star. You have to realise the audience we have and Miami would expect us to bring in a star. That’s what we plan on doing."

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At the time, Messi was still very much a one-club man lighting up European football at Barcelona. But Miami stepped up an ambitious bid to make him their 'star' man when his happy marriage with the Blaugrana began to turn sour in 2020.

"I spent three years. A year and a half, very intensely," Miami's managing owner Jorge Mas recently told El Pais when quizzed on negotiations with Messi. "I saw it done at the end of May. Beckham talked with Leo, only about football issues, because he was playing. I didn't want him to feel pressured. We've talked in Barcelona, Miami, Rosario, Doha... I spent the entire World Cup in Qatar, watching Argentina."

MLS commissioner Don Garber has added on Beckham's role in the deal: "It’s just not often that things align, and you deliver on the things you say you’re going to deliver. I think that’s cool. David is a special guy. People don’t understand how smart David Beckham is, how thoughtful he is and how hard-working he is."

It's safe to say that Messi would not be in MLS right now if it wasn't for Beckham. And his blossoming friendship with the Argentine great is also bringing joy to supporters across the United States and beyond.

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