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Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber has said the league would be willing to think “outside the box” in order to secure a deal for Lionel Messi to the play in the United States.
In an interview with The Athletic, Garber confirmed the league would be highly interested in ensuring that a deal could be struck for Messi to play in MLS, with Inter Miami CF said to be considering an offer.
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The former Barcelona forward’s contract with PSG runs until June, with the option of an extra year if he decides to trigger it. Sources have told ESPN that PSG remain keen to extend Messi’s contract, while he reportedly also has drawn interest from clubs in Saudi Arabia.
“You’re dealing with perhaps the most special player in the history of the game,” Garber said. “So when there are rumours of him connected to Miami, that’s great. And if it could happen, it would be terrific for MLS, it would be terrific for Messi and his family, and like everything with us, we try to run every opportunity down. I can’t give any more details than that because we don’t have them.”
Toronto FC winger Lorenzo Insigne set an MLS record with his $14 million annual salary when he joined MLS from Napoli last summer, with Messi likely to command a wage significantly higher than that.
Lionel Messi’s contract at PSG is set to expire at the end of the season. Aurelien Meunier – PSG/PSG via Getty Images
“Teams have the flexibility to do unique things,” Garber said. “MLS is a single entity. If you’re selling something that the collective owns, the collective has to approve that. So whatever [Inter Miami owner] Jorge [Mas] decides, with [MLS executive vice president Todd Durbin’s] help to structure something, if we have the opportunity to do that, it’s going to be outside the box.
“Because as you all know what’s going on in international football today, with [Cristiano] Ronaldo at $100m [a year] … the transfer market is just exploding in ways that are unimaginable. We’re going to have to structure a deal that’s going to compensate him in ways that he and his family expect. What that is? Honestly, we don’t know today, but he’s probably not going to be a [targeted allocation money] player.”
Garber previously said the league would never see another David Beckham-style deal — which, signed in 2007, included the option to buy an MLS expansion franchise for $25m — but the MLS boss rowed back on those comments, suggesting the league could show similarly flexibility with any potential deal for Messi.