New Delhi, December 6 (IANS) Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi has admitted he was attracted to joining Cristiano Ronaldo in 'very powerful' Saudi Pro League before his transfer to MLS.
During the summer, Messi left Paris Saint-Germain and signed a free transfer to join MLS team Inter Miami. Having won the Leagues Cup and enticed Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets to join the team, the World Cup champion has gone on to have a significant influence on American soccer.
Messi has now acknowledged that he seriously considered moving to the Middle East to follow his enduring rival Ronaldo, and that he did have the chance to move to the Saudi Pro League instead.
"My first option was to return to Barcelona, but it was not possible. I tried to return, and it did not happen. It is also true that later I was thinking a lot about going to the Saudi league, where I know the country and they have created a very powerful competition that can become an important league in the near future. It was Saudi Arabia or MLS, and both options seemed very interesting to me,” said Messi.
Despite making significant investments to sign players like Ronaldo, Neymar, and Karim Benzema, the Saudi Pro League was unable to sign Messi, even though they received high-ball bids. Instead, Messi chose to live in the United States, where his influence is seen off the field.
According to reports, despite raising their rates in response to Messi's arrival, Inter Miami has already sold out of season tickets for 2024. A-listers like LeBron James and Kim Kardashian have been drawn to watch the Argentine superstar play, which has led to a spike in interest in the sport in the United States.
Messi joined Miami in July and scored 11 goals in 14 games in all competitions to help them lift the Leagues Cup, their first ever trophy. The 36-year-old also won the Ballon d'Or for the eighth time in October.
Earlier on Tuesday, Messi was announced ‘Athlete of the Year’ by TIME magazine.