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Lionel Messi: Move To Inter Miami Kept My Future in My Hands

“I wanted to make my own decision for myself and my family,” he said.

Lionel Messi said he did not want to relive his traumatic departure from Barcelona two years ago after revealing Wednesday that he will join MLS side Inter Miami CF over the Catalan club.

Messi, 35, left Barca in August 2021 as a free agent, signing for Paris Saint-Germain because they could not afford to register his contract within their LaLiga-imposed spending limit.

Barca were keen to bring the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner back this summer, with coach Xavi Hernandez confirming their interest. However, they were once again in a similar position, unable to offer guarantees that the league will allow them to register new signings.

“I really wanted to come back,” Messi told Diario Sport after announcing his move to Miami. “But, on the other hand, after having lived through what I lived through, after the exit I had, I didn’t want to go through the same situation again and have to wait to see what was going to happen. I didn’t want to leave my future in the hands of others.

“I wanted to make my own decision for myself and my family. Even though I heard [in the media] that the league had accepted everything and that everything was OK for me to come back, there were still a lot of other things missing.

“I heard that they had to sell players or lower the salaries of players and I didn’t want to go through that, nor be responsible or have anything to do with all that.

“When I had to leave, they also said that LaLiga had accepted everything, but in the end it couldn’t be done. I was afraid that the same thing would happen again and I would have to rush [a decision] like I did then.”

Messi had agreed to a contract extension in 2021, but when it emerged one week before the season that Barca could not afford to register the deal with LaLiga, he had to quickly look for a solution away from the club where he had spent 20 years.

He ended up joining PSG, where he won back-to-back Ligue 1 titles, but aside from winning the World Cup with Argentina, he said the past two years had been tough.

“I had to come to Paris, stay in a hotel for a long time with my family, with my children going to school and still being in the hotel,” Messi said. “We never, ever wanted to come [to Paris]. It was very, very, very difficult, but the family supports me and it is a collective decision, not only mine. There is a tinge of sadness for them now, because while it was hard for them at the beginning, they are now more adapted to Paris.

“[But] I have just had two years in which things were not great for the family and I didn’t enjoy it. That month was spectacular for me when we won the World Cup, but apart from that, it has been a difficult time for me.”

Messi also had offers from Saudi Arabia and other European clubs, but he said the idea of playing in MLS and being slightly removed from the spotlight appealed to him.

“I had an offer from another European team, but I didn’t even evaluate it because in Europe my idea was only to go to Barcelona,” he said. “I’m also at a point where I want to get out of the spotlight a bit, to think more about my family.

“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barca, it was time to go to the American league to experience football in a different way and enjoy the day-to-day, obviously with the same responsibility and desire to win.”

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