'I could live with it' - MLS right to tweak contract rules for Lionel Messi, says New England manager Bruce Arena

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New England Revolution head coach Bruce Arena believes MLS should be able to make an exception to contract rules in order to bring in Lionel Messi.
  • Arena not worried about rules
  • Says Messi's move good for MLS
  • Takes big-picture perspective on the issue

WHAT HAPPENED? Rather than bemoan a potential competitive advantage given to Inter Miami to sign Messi this summer, Arena believes MLS is well within its rights if it bends its regulations for arguably the greatest soccer player of all-time. The former U.S. men's national team boss said that he wouldn't have a problem if Messi was given a lucrative designated player contract despite Inter Miami already having all three allowed designated player spots filled. There are also reports that Messi's contract could be supplemented by outside parties such as MLS broadcast rights holder Apple.

WHAT THEY SAID: "I think bringing Lionel Messi into our league is fabulous," Arena said, "and whatever they can do - if they had [the maximum] three DPs [designated players] already and they brought him in - I could live with it. It's good for our league."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: It remains possible that Inter Miami will simply offload one of their designated players to open up room for Messi, or reshuffle their roster in some other manner.

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"That's their business," Arena said. "I don't know what it is, but the rules are being followed. The league isn't doing any special for Miami. What's special is that Beckham [Inter Miami's founding owner] was able to attract Messi to his club. And they worked on him for a couple years. And I think although he turns 36 this month, he's gonna have a tremendous impact for that team and that city in the league. And that has to be good."


Beckham Messi collage

Bruce Arena USMNT

Lionel Messi Argentina 2022-23

WHAT NEXT? Given Inter Miami's dreadful position in the table, Arena's Revolution may not have to deal with Messi in the playoffs this campaign as the David Beckham-led club could miss the postseason. Similar to LAFC's Carlos Vela, then, the manager may not feel immediate competitive threat from the Argentine's arrival.