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Lionel Messi

Messi & Neymar told that playing in MLS is not a 'retirement move'

9:57 PM SGT 23/2/22
Neymar, Lionel Messi PSG training
The duo have been tipped to play in the US at some stage, but the league's supremo does not want players without 100% motivation

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber has warned the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar that the US top flight does not want players that treat the league like a retirement home.

Neymar stated recently that he would like to play in MLS for at least one season before he retires, adding that he would get three months' holiday in the off-season.

Garber, however, has made it clear that the league has no time for passengers who are merely in the US to breeze by and pick up an easy wage.

What was said?

Speaking at a press conference, Garber said: “Anybody could sign Messi today and pay him what they want to pay him as a designated player, should Lionel decide that he wants to play Major League Soccer – and that's the same for Neymar or any other player.

“We want our story to be about young players who are coming here at the earliest stages in their career or in the prime of their careers.

“You know, you've got players that are coming at 30 - personally I don't think 30 is old when you're a Major League Soccer player.

“But if they're not here to come and play and be a great contributor to their club and to our league and to respect the league and its fans, then we don't want them in Major League Soccer.”

MLS greats

Garber went on to add that some players entering the twilight of their careers have flourished in the US, but used the example of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, formerly of LA Galaxy, to further challenge the notion that older players moving to MLS are merely looking for an easy ride.

He continued: “I think there has been no shortage of players towards the end of their career that have been great MLS players. And [Thierry] Henry is perhaps one of the great examples of that, David Beckham is one of the great examples of that.

“I can't imagine what Major League Soccer would be without players like that.

“But you also think about Josef Martinez and you think about [Miguel] Almiron, and you think about some of the players that have come in recently, they're what is making Major League Soccer the league that it is today.

“Interestingly, when Zlatan left Major League Soccer, nobody said that he went to go retire in Italy. And frankly, I was insulted by that. Because if Zlatan came to us at the same age he went back to Milan, it would have been [called] a retirement move on his part.”

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