Weeks of endless suffering for Inter Miami fans are about to pay off as Lionel Messi prepares to make his Herons debut on Friday.
According to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will make his maiden appearance for the Major League Soccer franchise against Cruz Azul on July 21.
La Pulga halted his two-year stint at Paris Saint-Germain in June, deciding to move overseas despite receiving a mind-boggling proposal to join the Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Hilal.
Unlike many other European heavy hitters, the 36-year-old resisted the temptation to bask himself in the Gulf country’s petrodollars to secure a reunion with his former Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino in Miami.
Tuesday was a landmark day for Inter, as Messi, joined by his friend and ex-Barca teammate Sergio Busquets, trained with the rest of the group for the first time.
A sight to behold attracted plenty of attention in the United States following the left-footed forward’s unveiling as the new Herons number ten at a sold-out DRV PNK Stadium.
While MLS is no stranger to luring high-profile names, it’s been a while since the competition last housed a player of Messi’s stature, with Andrea Pirlo probably being the last major star to move across the ocean.
Messi’s arrival has sparked much enthusiasm within the club, and his debut cannot come soon enough, given Miami’s underwhelming league campaign.
Nailed to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, courtesy of a dismal 23% win ratio, the Herons face the frightening prospect of missing out on the MLS play-offs.
New boss Martino has failed to turn the club’s fortunes around, drawing his first three games in charge before slipping to a dreadful 3-0 defeat at St Louis City last time out.
But with Messi and Busquets gearing up for their MLS debuts, a new dawn could be on the horizon.