Inter Miami to unveil Lionel Messi on Sunday ahead of potential July 21 debut vs. Cruz Azul in Leagues Cup

In a groundbreaking move, global soccer icon Lionel Messi is heading to Inter Miami when the MLS summer transfer window opens on July 5th. After his contract expires with Paris Saint-Germain at the end of June, Messi will move on a free transfer although there are still a few more things to be done before he officially signs his contract with the Herons. But with those seeming to be formalities, anticipation is building to see arguably the greatest soccer player ever play in America.

Miami are preparing for Messi’s arrival by appointing Tata Martino as their new manager and also lining up new signings like Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba but there is also now a date set for his unveiling at DRV PNK stadium. Messi will be unveiled Sunday, July 16 at 6 p.m. ET. 

It remains to be seen if deals for Busquets and Alba will be officially complete to unveil them as well but all of Miami is getting ready with murals of Messi popping up around the city. Tickets for that unveiling will be free to season ticket members with a select few also being sold separately.

With Messi’s unveiling set, we take a look at when his debut will likely be for Inter Miami.

The Herons are involved in the league, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and the newly created Leagues Cup.

Here’s when he could make his debut:

July 19: MLS All-Star Game 

While Messi isn’t officially on the roster for the All-Star game against Arsenal, he could make a brief appearance at Audi Field in Washington D.C. on July 19th. We’ve seen players appear in this game before having not played all that much for their club, and with this being a premier event for Major League Soccer, it makes sense to want Messi in attendance if possible. 

July 21: vs. Cruz Azul

After winning the World Cup with Argentina, Messi has essentially been playing soccer nonstop since July of 2022 when PSG played in the Trophee des Championes against Nantes. For protecting his legs, he’d need at least a month of rest and to be eased back into playing which is why it has been reported that his debut for the club would likely be their Leagues Cup match against Cruz Azul on July 21 at DRV PNK Stadium.

Mas confined that the goal is for Messi to play in this match while there will also be work done to increase capacity on the stadium to prepare for his arrival.

“We have already contracted to fill in the corners of the stadium that should increase capacity by approximately 3,000 to 3,200 seats. We are gearing up to do that work in the next four weeks,” Mas told The Miami Herald. “Every game will be sold out. The demand for tickets has been 10 times what we can handle on a season ticket basis.”

Not only does that allow Messi to debut at home while helping MLS promote a new competition against a well know Liga MX side but it also ensures that he gets appropriate rest before rolling into a summer of MLS. 

August 20: vs. Charlotte FC

After that match, there will be another break during which Messi can rest again before facing Charlotte FC at home on August 20 for his MLS league debut. By that match, it would be in standard preseason time for Messi and he’ll be ready to help drive Miami to the playoffs with only 12 matches remaining in the regular season.

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