Argentine legend Lionel Messi will join American team Inter Miami after his departure from French champions Paris St-Germain.

Messi, 35, received a more lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal, while a return to Barcelona became impossible due to Financial Fair Play (FFP) limitations.

“I have made the decision to go to Miami,” Messi told the newspapers Diario Sport and Mundo Deportivo.

“[I decided] get out of Europe.

And he added: “It’s true that I had offers from another European team but I didn’t even consider it because in Europe my idea was only to go to Barcelona.

“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barça, it’s time to go to MLS to live football in a different way and enjoy my day to day more.

“Obviously with the same responsibility and desire to win, and to do things well, but with more calm.”

The former Barcelona striker was eager to return to the Catalan club this summer, but FFP limitations that will be in place for next season in La Liga made any ambitious plans to bring him back impossible.

The Spanish club failed to retain Messi in 2021, prompting a tearful press conference when he left the Camp Nou for PSG.

“I was afraid it would happen again,” he said.

“I really wanted, I really wanted to be able to return [to Barcelona]but after having lived what I lived and the exit that I had, I did not want to be in the same situation again – waiting to see what was going to happen.

“I heard that they had to sell players or lower the players’ salaries and the truth is that I didn’t want to go through that, or take charge of getting something that had to do with all that.”

Barcelona later released a statement saying that Messi had chosen to move to Miami over an offer from the Catalan club.

“President [Joan] Laporta understood and respected Messi’s decision to want to compete in a league with fewer demands, further away from the spotlight and the pressure to which he has been subjected in recent years,” he added.

Messi’s first adventure outside Europe

The Miami agreement includes the collaboration of brands such as Adidas and Apple.

Messi won the Ballon d’Or for the best player in the world seven times and is expected to win it later this year after World Cup success.

This is the first time Barcelona icon Messi has played outside of Europe.

With a return to Barcelona not materializing, he had the direct choice between Inter Miami or Al-Hilal.

He was strongly inclined to be in favor of a move to Saudi Arabia, where he would have joined Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in the league in a deal that could not be matched financially.

But Messi was ultimately tempted by Major League Soccer (MLS) club Inter Miami for a variety of reasons, including lifestyle and a deal with big brands that extends beyond soccer.

He already has a house in Miami, which he rents.

Paris St-Germain won Ligue 1 in both of his seasons at the club, but were knocked out in the Champions League round of 16, meaning his time in France was not seen as a great success.

He scored 32 goals in 75 appearances for the club and finished this season with 16 goals and 16 assists in Ligue 1.

Messi’s two-year contract comes to an end this summer and both sides have agreed to go their separate ways, with the striker suspended for two weeks in May for an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia.

His legacy comes from his time at Barcelona and winning the World Cup with Argentina in December.

He left Barça in 2021, after 21 years at the club, due to the club’s financial problems.

Messi is Barcelona’s top scorer with 672 goals and has won 10 La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and seven Spanish Cups.

“If it was about money, I would have gone to Saudi Arabia”

Messi said he had spoken with his great friend Xavi, the Barcelona manager, about returning to the club but “very little, once or twice at the most” with president Joan Laporta.

“We were very excited, because when something came out we discussed if he really wanted him to come back, if it was good for the team and for him, and we kept in communication,” Messi said.

“We didn’t even get to talk about the contract. A proposal was passed, but never a formal, written, signed proposal, because there was still nothing and we didn’t know if it was going to be possible or not.

“There was the intention, but we could not advance anything, we did not even talk about money formally.

“If it had been a question of money, I would have gone to Saudi Arabia or anywhere else.”

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