AUSTIN (KXAN) — Soccer superstar Lionel Messi is undoubtedly an all-time great and one of the most well-known athletes in the world. News came down earlier this week that the Argentine will be coming to Major League Soccer to play with Inter Miami.
“I think along with everyone else [I’m] pretty impressed and excited to have such an influential figure in the game join our league,” Austin FC Head Coach Josh Wolff said. “I think our league continues to grow and he’ll continue to elevate the platform.”
Messi, who is heading to Florida from France’s Paris Saint-Germain, won the 2022 World Cup with Argentina. Fellow countrymen and Austin FC Captain Sebastián Driussi have made waves in the MLS, and Driussi shares his coach’s excitement.
“It’s incredible,” Driussi said through a translator. “Of course, all Argentinians are glad that he’s here. And me especially because I came to this league knowing it’s going to grow. Now it’s definitely going to grow.”
MORE THAN THE SCORE: Stay up to date on sports stories like these, and sign up for our More than the Score sports newsletter at kxan.com/newsletters
Having played at the highest level on the national and club stage, Messi’s move to MLS is viewed by many as a downgrade in competition. But reigning MVP runner-up Driussi knows the intensity of the league.
“I would tell him it’s a very competitive league,” Driussi said. “A lot of people have the thought that a lot of people come to retire here but I’m a young player and I came here. The games are not easy for me.”
David Beckham, the current president and co-owner of Inter Miami, was one of the first international starts to join MLS. Wolff noted the impact that move had and thinks Messi may prove similarly influential.
“The interest from now other players. I think that’s the piece that will be really exciting to see…I’m sure there will be players interested in joining [Messi] at Inter Miami.”
Will Austin FC face Messi?
There is no official word yet on when Messi will make his debut with Inter Miami. It’s likely his first appearance will be sometime in July, according to national reports.
Austin FC will play at Inter Miami July 1 in the teams’ only meeting of the regular season.