“Lionel Messi this year managed to do what once seemed impossible, when he signed with Inter Miami: turning the US into a soccer country,” Time commented
Lionel Messi has been named Time magazine’s “Athlete of the Year” for 2023 after a trailblazing season marked by an eighth Ballon d’Or award and his ground-breaking move to Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami.
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Time said the Argentine superstar had already had a transformative impact on the American sporting landscape, which has been historically slow to embrace football. “Lionel Messi this year managed to do what once seemed impossible, when he signed with Inter Miami: turning the US into a soccer country,” Time commented.
Messi, 36, made his debut for Miami in July following an acrimonious departure from Paris Saint-Germain. The World Cup-winner also rebuffed a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia in favor of a new chapter in MLS. The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner made an instant impact on Miami’s fortunes, playing a pivotal role in helping the team win the expanded Leagues Cup, a cross-border competition for teams from MLS and Mexico’s top flight. Messi was quoted by Time as saying that his first preference after PSG had been a fairytale return to Barcelona, but that move stalled over the club’s finances. “I tried to return, and it did not happen,” Messi said, adding that he was also “thinking a lot” about joining the wave of overseas players who have headed to the Saudi Pro League.
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