Jorge Mas, the co-owner of Inter Miami, has pledged to make every effort to facilitate Lionel Messi’s return to FC Barcelona in any role that allows him to bid farewell to his fans there.
Mas expressed this commitment during an interview with El Club del Deportista, and key quotes from the conversation were shared by the Spanish sports newspaper MARCA on Monday evening.
Mas, who co-owns the MLS franchise alongside soccer icon David Beckham, revealed insights into the situation where Messi declined a return to Barca and a lucrative offer from Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia during the summer.
“I always aspired to sign Leo. Everyone told me I was crazy to think he would come to Inter Miami,” Mas revealed.
“What better than the best player in the world coming to Miami, where he could enjoy [life] with his wife, with his children.”
“In 2019 I arranged a meeting with Jorge Messi. There David Beckham and I explained the Miami project to Jorge for three hours.
“I said, ‘Your son will have the opportunity to create a new legacy because he’s going to be able to change a sport in a country,’ and that rarely happens to an athlete.”
“I kept in touch with Jorge constantly. It was four and a half years of convincing Lionel to decide with his family. I never lost faith. I was convinced that Lionel Messi was going to arrive.”
“I saw that there was a great possibility after the World Cup, and in January or February [the possibility to] close something.”
Mas acknowledged the significant threat posed by Saudi Arabia, where Al-Hilal reportedly tempted the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, who was nearing free agency at Paris Saint-Germain, with enticing figures surpassing €1 billion ($1.047 billion) to persuade him to continue his career in the Middle East.
“Obviously being the best player in the world there was a lot of competition. A lot. Not only with the renewal that PSG wanted, [but also] the possible return to Barcelona and the offers from Saudi Arabia,” Mas stated.
“Frankly they were very intense months. I had multiple meetings between Rosario, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Miami, Doha. If I saw the operation in danger? No doubt. There was a lot of pressure.”
“Messi’s departure from Barcelona [in 2021] 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.”
In the segment of the interview that piqued the curiosity of Culers (Barcelona fans), Mas affirmed that he had personally assured Messi that he “will do everything possible in the coming years so that he has the opportunity to say goodbye to his fans in Barcelona”.
“Inter Miami will go [there] or we will play some kind of game,” Mas suggested, with the annual Joan Gamper Trophy, where Barca host a friendly to open the season in August, a possible stage for what would essentially be a tribute match to Messi once the Camp Nou stadium has been renovated.”
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