Inter Miami CF managing owner Jorge Mas is considering the possibility of his team participating in a match in Barcelona as a way for Lionel Messi to say goodbye to his fans.
Following Messi’s departure from Barcelona as a free agent in August 2021, amidst the club’s financial challenges, there has been ongoing discussion about organising a tribute game to pay homage to the legendary Argentine player.
“I gave him (Lionel Messi) my commitment that I will do everything possible in the coming years so that he has the opportunity to say goodbye to his fans in Barcelona,” Mas said. “Inter Miami will go there (to Barcelona) or we will have some kind of match.
“Messi’s departure from Barcelona was not to his liking, he could not say goodbye to his club, which welcomed him as a child, and I think the circumstances were not what Lionel wanted.”
Barcelona President Joan Laporta recently expressed the idea that it would be fitting for Lionel Messi’s tribute to coincide with the official unveiling of the renovated Spotify Camp Nou stadium, which is not anticipated until the 2025–26 season.
In the past, there has been speculation about using the annual Joan Gamper Trophy, a traditional pre-season event held in August, as a potential occasion to pay tribute to Messi.
During the summer, there were considerations of Messi making a return to Barcelona, but he eventually joined Inter Miami CF after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expired in June.
Messi, a 2022 World Cup champion with Argentina, has been in excellent form, scoring 11 goals in 12 matches for Inter Miami this season. With him on the field, Inter Miami has remained unbeaten and even secured the League Cup in August, marking their first trophy win.
“I think everything has changed with him,” Mas said of Messi’s impact on MLS. “The MLS is another. Every time we play away from home, the stadiums are full. The reception for Lionel has been extraordinary.
“The game in New York, with almost 30,000 fans and 80% shouting Messi’s name… there were Albiceleste and pink Inter Miami t-shirts… It shocked me; I wasn’t expecting that. There will be a before and after Messi’s arrival to the MLS.”
Mas did know that Messi’s arrival would alter the game in North America.
“In 2019, I organised a meeting with [Messi’s father and agent] Jorge Messi,” he said. [Inter Miami co-owner] David Beckham and I explained the Miami project to Jorge for three hours. I told him: ‘Your son will have the opportunity to create a new legacy because he will be able to change a sport in a country,’ and that (opportunity)is very rarely given to an athlete.”