Messi to MLS: How Was the Performance of Other Superstars in the United States?

Several sports journalists have rumored the possible arrival of Lionel Messi at Inter Miami for the next season. Is MLS a superstar graveyard or a competitive league? .

Lionel Messi

Photo: IG-leomessi

Paula Andrea Hernández

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Leer en español: Messi a la MLS: ¿Cómo les fue a otras superestrellas que pasaron por allá?

Bombshell in world football after the English newspaper “The Times” assured that Inter Miami is close to reaching an agreement with the current PSG player, Lionel Messi. According to this medium, the captain of the Argentine National Team would be ready to sign a contract once his participation in the World Cup in Qatar ends, where the Albiceleste competes for its third title.

If this comes true, Messi could make history by becoming the highest paid Argentine soccer player in the history of the United States MLS, with a figure that would exceed 14 million dollars.

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Since the first season of the MLS (Major Soccer League) began in 1996, after being founded three years ago, there have been several superstars that have come to American soccer. This team has taken advantage of hiring great figures not only to improve the level of competition, but also to promote the image of this league worldwide.

How Have the Footballers Who Have Triumphed on other Continents Fared When they Arrived in the North American Country?

David Beckham, who is still linked to the MLS as one of the owners of Inter Miami, the team that is behind the talent of Rosario, was a bombshell when his arrival in American soccer was announced. The Briton arrived at the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007, where he received some distinctions at the individual level. He also managed to win two MLS titles (2011 and 2012). However, the Englishman, unlike many, decided to retire later at PSG.

Currently, it is considered that Beckham broke the history of the MLS in two, since he was the gateway for great figures to reach the North American league. In addition, he is the footballer with the most shirts sold in the history of the league.

Then Zlatan Ibrahimović would arrive, who played only two seasons in the MLS also wearing the colors of the Los Angeles Galaxy, where he played 58 games, scored 53 goals, but failed to win titles, and although he was voted the best player of the year on two occasions. The striker decided to return to Milan, assuring that "he was too good for the league". 

Another footballer who went through American soccer was Kaká, winner of the Ballon d'Or in 2007, who arrived at Orlando City in 2014, which was a new franchise in the league at the time. A perfect opportunity to make yourself known by taking a world figure with you. In fact, at the time, the Brazilian was the highest-earning player in MLS with more than $7 million. However, his arrival did not mean titles for the club, where he scored 25 goals in 78 games.

For his part, Wayne Rooney, who recently retired from soccer in 2021, is one of the most remembered players in the United States during his time at DC United. In 2018, the year he joined the Washington team, he finished as the team's MVP and top scorer, with a total of 12 goals in 21 games.

Rooney's arrival at DC United positioned the team on a competitive and branded level, generating close to $4.5 million from impressions earned on social media, television, and game broadcasts in the year of his arrival.

Another icon of European soccer, world champion with Germany, went through Chicago Fire of the MLS. This is Bastian Schweinsteiger, who failed to win titles in his time in American soccer, but is remembered for leading the Illinois team to the playoffs. In 2019, Schweinsteiger declared that the quality of life and the fact of being able to go out into the street in peace without anyone asking for photos, was one of the reasons why he chose the United States.

Didier Drogba became immortalized in MLS history since his arrival at the Montreal Impact, where he achieved the fastest hat trick by a rookie, in his first game since the starting eleven. The Ivorian striker did not win any titles, but he did score 21 goals in 43 appearances. Later, he would retire in Phoenix Rising, also in the North American country.

One of those who did win titles on US soil was Thierry Henry. He played for the New York Red Bulls, where he was considered one of the most valuable players in MLS at the time. The Frenchman scored 52 goals in 135 games and was a two-time MLS Eastern Conference champion with his team, where he retired as a professional in 2014.

One of the most recent additions to the American league is the arrival of Gareth Bale. The Welshman has already won the hearts of Los Angeles FC fans, as the team clinched the MLS Cup by defeating the Philadelphia Union in a self-forced penalty shootout after tying the game late in extra time.

The Major Soccer League has based its growth strategy on leading world figures so that the world will turn to see this world power, it is true. However, although the arrival of Messi may mean an increase in terms of sponsorships, fans, a blow of authority and everything that the Argentine can provoke, the MLS has shown that it has been working on the growth of the competition since before.

Now, with the possible signing of who is considered one of the best players in history, the league of one of the world powers seeks to conquer the biggest sport in the world, with 4,000 million potential fans. As an example, only Messi's arrival at PSG with the "Messi Mania" meant a sales record with 832,000 shirts in 24 hours, in addition to the millions of followers that the French team gained on its social networks.

Without a doubt, this is a league that was created to grow, an example of this is that in 1996 it started with 10 teams and today there are more than 23 franchises that make up this competition where many superstars have left their mark and are remembered for their contribution. .

The United States is no longer just the destination that soccer players choose to retire, it has become a competitive, expanding space, where clubs have also been recruiting very young, talented players, seeking to increase competition and achieve more goals.

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