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Messi and his teammates at Inter Miami: Where is American football headed?

Messi and his teammates at Inter Miami: Where is American football headed?

Senior League or a real alternative for aspiring professionals? Major League Soccer is booming after Lionel Messi moved to the United States. But is development sustainable?

March 14, 2024 | 16:25 minutes


Florida has long been known as a retiree's paradise – not only American citizens, but also tens of thousands of immigrants from all over the world come to Sonnensee in their later years and contribute to the highest average lifespan in the USA. A new target group has been added recently – not quite old, but also at the end of their active careers.

Memories of the Universe New York

Along with Lionel Messi (36), Jordi Alba (34), Sergio Busquets (35) and Luis Suarez (37), four former players from the heyday of FC Barcelona have moved to Inter Miami in Major League Soccer (MLS).
If you include club owner David Beckham, this string of illustrious names is very reminiscent of the beginnings of professional soccer in the USA. Franz Beckenbauer, PelletCarlos Alberto and Giorgio Chinaglia joined the New York Cosmos in the late 1970s.

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2026 FIFA World Cup in the USA

Like their predecessors, Messi and company should serve as driving forces for the entire league. “If you have such a global star or multiple world stars in the league, it obviously helps a lot,” MLS broadcaster Anne Mayer says on the show. Football field. He added: “Especially since the World Cup will be held in our country in two years, this will provide the necessary impetus.”

Before that, the Copa America (2024) as well as the Club World Cup and the Gold Cup (2026) will be held in the United States of America. “It's perfect timing because Inter Miami is now showing such a large fan following on a national level: you don't play football with an egg, but with a ball,” says Football Stadium presenter Manu Thiel.

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Miami is more attractive with Messi

Viewer numbers indicate the success of the idea. With Messi, Miami attracted an average of 40,581 spectators at its away matches, compared to just 22,916 before that. Even in this country, you sometimes see pink or black Miami jerseys bearing the number 10.

But this also happened forty years ago, when huge investments led to a false boom in American football. More and more investors wanted to take advantage of the boom and brought in old stars from Europe. A bloated “operetta league” emerged without a sustainable foundation, and then slowly collapsed.

MLS is smaller on average than the major leagues in Europe

Today's MLS has learned from the mistakes of the past, grown more slowly and, above all, can rely on its youth system. “We've seen some players who have already been exported to the highest levels in Europe,” says Evan Weston, an Orlando-based MLS commentator.

Bayern Munich's Alphonso Davies is a product of the MLS Academy. The MLS's average age is 25.6 years, which is lower than the average of Europe's big four leagues.

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How sustainable is Inter Miami's development?

Inter Miami is now going the other way again and has increased its average through new purchases to 30.2 per year. The transfers were only possible because the usual salary cap in Major League Soccer's American professional leagues allows exceptions for three players. With Messi present Saudi Arabia He would likely earn a lot more, in addition to participating in T-shirt sales and TV subscriptions.

In terms of sports, the investment is currently paying off for Miami: having played four games so far, the Florida team sits at the top of the standings. But how sustainable is the building?

Miami's trajectory is an example for the entire league?

“I'm very excited to see what it looks like down the track and whether everyone will remain injury-free,” says Rafael Chicos, former Bundesliga player and current pro in Chicago. “If you have players like that in the team, it obviously also means that the width of the team suffers. We want to see what it looks like at the end of the season, whether the strength can still keep up and whether the boys are still ready.” meter.”

The answer to this question probably depends on whether other American clubs will increasingly rely on old stars again – or whether they will continue to rely on the quality of developing their youngsters and making stars themselves in the future.