NBA superstar LeBron James has shared his thoughts about Lionel Messi playing in the MLS with Inter Miami, saying that the forward has elevated the league.
Lionel Messi moved to Inter Miami last summer, ending his illustrious and trophy-laden stay in Europe. The Argentine great had offers from Saudi Arabia and considered returning to Barcelona before eventually choosing to move to the MLS in July. His arrival was met with a great deal of fanfare, and his debut in the Leagues Cup was watched by several global superstars.
LeBron James was in attendance at the DRV PNK Stadium in July as Messi came off the bench against Mexican outfit Cruz Azul. The Argentine forward went on to score a stoppage-time free-kick to seal a 2-1 win for Inter Miami, announcing himself to the USA.
Los Angeles Lakers star James believes that the presence of Messi in the MLS is a game-changer, as he has attracted a new set of football fans. Speaking with ESPN journalist Dave McMenamin, the 39-year-old revealed his deep respect for Messi and all that he has achieved.
“Seeing, the GOAT of soccer, Lionel Messi grace the MLS with his greatness presence is a game-changer for us. His arrival not only elevates the league but also inspires a new generation of soccer fans in our country.
“It takes an unparalleled dedication, work ethic, and talent to achieve what Messi has, and I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. I’m wishing all the best to him.”
Lionel Messi is not the first football icon to play in the MLS, and he has only followed in the footsteps of Pele, Johan Cruyff, and Franz Beckenbauer. More recently, the likes of Thierry Henry and David Beckham have taken their talents to the USA.
Lionel Messi doubtful for Inter Miami friendly
Having sat out of his side’s 4-1 win over a Hong Kong XI at the weekend, Lionel Messi remains a doubt for their next pre-season friendly. The Herons are set to face Japanese side Vissel Kobe on Wednesday (February 7), but a hamstring injury is keeping Messi out.
Messi revealed to the media ahead of the match in Tokyo that he missed the Hong Kong match due to an injury. He also said that his condition is being monitored as he hopes to feature in the final match of their grueling tour in Japan.
He said via Albiceleste Talk:
“I missed the last match in Hong Kong due to muscle discomfort. I really wanted to play because many people came, but this is part of the game..
“The pre season tour is coming to an end and I would like to play the last match in Japan before returning. My condition will be evaluated after today’s training and it will be determined whether I will play or not.”
Inter Miami have lost three, won one, and drawn one of five pre-season friendlies so far as they prepare for the 2024 MLS season. They look like they are yet to gel fully, and coach Gerardo Martino will be keen to have them in the best possible shape from the start of the season.