Messi to MLS!

sodenj5

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Is there a reason you call it the MLS
Americans call all the American sports leagues “the.”

The NFL. The NBA. The NHL. Baseball might be more of an exception as most people refer to it as baseball and not MLB or The MLB.

Edit: thinking about this more, it makes more sense when talking about the league. You wouldn’t say “National Football League is…” you’d say “The National Football League is…” in that context, it seems perfectly normal.

I suppose MLS should be referred to as MLS because you wouldn’t say “the Major League Soccer”, you’d say just “Major League Soccer,” but I’m so used to referring to the other leagues as The, it feels normal.

Also didn’t mean to sound condescending by saying Americans call their leagues “the.“ So apologies, didn’t know if you’re from the US or not.
 
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SocrManiac

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On the other hand, lol this is why it was called a retirement league and no one takes it seriously.
I’m not really sure the audience here appreciates this. There are passionate MLS fans in this forum. @Titans Bastard is an incredible source for MLS and USMNT news and we’re lucky to have him.

Your statement about the retirement league is demonstrably false. It’s been pointed out here a few times. Adding “The” to MLS to troll the people is pretty juvenile as well. I don’t think this standard would be allowed in the (American) football forum, where you do fantastic work, and it really shouldn’t be here, either.
 

InstaFace

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Right but structurally, if you spelled it out, you'd call it "The National Basketball Association", whereas you'd just say "Major League Soccer", no definite article required, for the same reason you'd say "the league" but not "the soccer", if you were to remove the modifiers.

http://www.mit.edu/course/21/21.guide/art-pnou.htm

Edit: I see sodenj got there on his own. And I didn't read his remark as being condescending, myself. I can see it being a habit, but if you call baseball "MLB", without an article, then no reason to do so when the B changes to an S. Unless you're a real estate agent.
 

67YAZ

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This past winter, Chicago sold 2 teenagers to English clubs for over $30m total. And I can’t wait to see Guti meg Messi after Brady stonewalls a free kick. Retirement league my ass.
 

sodenj5

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I’m not really sure the audience here appreciates this. There are passionate MLS fans in this forum. @Titans Bastard is an incredible source for MLS and USMNT news and we’re lucky to have him.

Your statement about the retirement league is demonstrably false. It’s been pointed out here a few times. Adding “The” to MLS to troll the people is pretty juvenile as well. I don’t think this standard would be allowed in the (American) football forum, where you do fantastic work, and it really shouldn’t be here, either.
“The MLS” wasn’t a troll and is just how I would refer to it in conversation. That seems to be incorrect, but it wasn’t intentional.

MLS is doing some fine things. They’ve come a long way from what they were, but Messi coming to MLS doesn’t legitimize it any more than when Beckham did, when Bale did, or when Zlatan did. Those were all guys clearly on the downslope of their careers looking to extend their careers or their brands. Messi is less removed from his prime than those other names, but he certainly is beyond it.

I think it’s fair to question the move. It’s going to sell tickets, but how motivated will Messi be to play Sporting Kansas City on a Tuesday night in front 16,000 people?
 

Kliq

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16,000 fans would be about league average for a club in Ligue 1.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Of all times to call it a retirement league, a day where a player who is better than a massive number of people playing in the big five leagues just signed seems weird.
 

sodenj5

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Of all times to call it a retirement league, a day where a player who is better than a massive number of people playing in the big five leagues just signed seems weird.
I’m not going to die on the Messi retires to MLS hill, but Messi himself said he wanted to continue playing soccer at a lower profile.

He won’t have to play Champion’s League games, he won’t have to play Copa Del Rey games like if he went back to Barca. He’s going to make more money for playing a less grueling schedule against a lower level of competition.

Call that whatever you would like.
 

rguilmar

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16,000 fans would be about league average for a club in Ligue 1.
Messi turned up at Ipurua several times. Capacity 8,000.

I expect all stadiums to be at or near capacity when the Messi circus comes to town.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I’m not going to die on the Messi retires to MLS hill, but Messi himself said he wanted to continue playing soccer at a lower profile.

He won’t have to play Champion’s League games, he won’t have to play Copa Del Rey games like if he went back to Barca. He’s going to make more money for playing a less grueling schedule against a lower level of competition.

Call that whatever you would like.
I'm not even sure what the point you're making is. Lionel Messi signed with an MLS team today. Of all the days to denigrate the MLS, this seems like trolling. I guess I'm reading your post as saying, "well, this doesn't change anything for me about my opinion about MLS," which is . . . I dunno. Ok.

You've already called it an illegitimate league, so I think we understand where you stand. (Maybe I'm over reading what you were trying to express, but the idea that it's a league that needs legitimizing is certainly not a consensus opinion.) And you're certainly not the only one to feel that way. I disagree. I love MLS, but know others don't. But, whatever, reasonable disagreement and all. The timing seems weird.

And "retirement league" is just an unnecessarily pejorative way to make a point. Every league in soccer has a level up in terms of competition. I think everyone has a general agreement about how good MLS is, and it's not as good as the very best leagues in the world. Which means that for the very best players in the world, coming to MLS means they will do so where their level of play is commensurate with the standard of play in the league -- which by and large means when they are older. So if "retirement league" is just euphemism for "not yet one of the best leagues in the world," then ok. I don't know anyone who would disagree.

But again, what's the point? The league is getting better and better and better each year.

As evidenced by the fact that they just attracted a player who was the best in the world and still has gas in the tank. Which is my timing point.
 

Titans Bastard

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I think that people saying "The MLS" is not usually intended as a troll or to be condescending or anything, but it's usually (not always) a sign that they don't know that much about the league.

But anyway, that's exactly what this signing is about from the league perspective. Messi attracts a gazillion eyeballs. The league will be able to sell a lot of tickets to his games, a lot of MLS Season Pass subscriptions (at home and abroad), a lot of merch, and they'll be able to get more sponsorship dollars. But the opportunity extends beyond that. Messi is much bigger than Beckham and the league is in a different place in 2023 than it was in 2007, but the dynamic is the same: by driving attention to the league, you generate new fans who are exposed to MLS for the first time, and you demonstrate to longer-time but MLS-skeptical soccer fans that some of their assumptions about the league are incorrect.

For example:

16,000 fans would be about league average for a club in Ligue 1.
(And also, 25 of 29 clubs in MLS have a higher average attendance than 16,000 this year.)

Not every team has a great atmosphere, but most teams play in good facilities with good crowds. MLS is littered with young Latin American imports, and domestic teenage prospects playing significant roles in teams all over the league. There are some big, highly paid names that Joe Anglophile Soccer Fan has heard of, but they're a tiny percentage of the league. The big name Euro star types who approach MLS with 100% commitment dominate as you would expect. The ones who take their foot off the gas almost invariably bust.

It all comes back to what Messi can hopefully do for the league. If you watch the games and learn the players, the true nature of the league will quickly become apparent. MLS obviously isn't the best league, but there's quality there, and MLS has a zany streak that can be very entertaining for fans who are able to get past the sort of US Soccer Original Sin of being highly self-conscious about most aspects of American soccer culture.
 

speedracer

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Wayne Rooney has been affiliated with the league for years and still calls it 'The MLS', it's just a easy habit if you're saying 'The Premier League' and 'The Championship' all the time.
 

ThePrideofShiner

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He’s going to make more money for playing a less grueling schedule against a lower level of competition.

Call that whatever you would like.
While the competition will certainly be lower, I guarantee he's never had a travel schedule like he's about to face.

Every time the Euros come over they talk about how much harder MLS is than they were expecting.

Also, comparing current Messi to Zlatan is laughable.
 

speedracer

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While the competition will certainly be lower, I guarantee he's never had a travel schedule like he's about to face.

Every time the Euros come over they talk about how much harder MLS is than they were expecting.
Seems like a good spot to remember that in the span of 22 days in late 2011, Robbie Keane played in and won a two-legged conference semi for LA Galaxy against NYRB, a conference final against Salt Lake, a MLS Cup against Houston, *and* a two-legged Euro play-in for Ireland against Estonia. GOAT (and that's not being sarcastic or dismissive of the league at all.)
 

67YAZ

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Seems like a good spot to remember that in the span of 22 days in late 2011, Robbie Keane played in and won a two-legged conference semi for LA Galaxy against NYRB, a conference final against Salt Lake, a MLS Cup against Houston, *and* a two-legged Euro play-in for Ireland against Estonia. GOAT (and that's not being sarcastic or dismissive of the league at all.)
That’s more miles than a mid-table EPL club will log in season, more than a mid-table Eredivisie club might log in decade.
 

InstaFace

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oh, the other thing about this that occurred to me:

David Beckham keeps proving that bending over backwards to bring him in was the best move MLS owners ever made. Or, like, second only to Phil Anschutz keeping the whole league afloat in 2002. How many ownership groups would've had the sheer balls to go after Leo Messi? Or the cachet to actually get him to pick up the phone?

He has got to be the most high-impact ex-elite-player sports owner in the world. Like, who's even in second place? Not Michael Jordan. LeBron now being part-owner of Liverpool hasn't had much in the way of synergies. Steve Nash hasn't done squat for the Vancouver Whitecaps, as far as I can tell. Ronaldo Nazario just saw his Real Valladolid get relegated. The less said about Jamie Vardy and the Rochester Raging Rhinos, the better. Maybe Lemieux with the Penguins ranks ahead of Beckham, since he literally saved the franchise from folding in 1999 and won three Stanley Cups. But aside from Lemieux, David Beckham has had an impact as a player-turned-owner that is hard to overstate.
 

ThePrideofShiner

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Seems like a good spot to remember that in the span of 22 days in late 2011, Robbie Keane played in and won a two-legged conference semi for LA Galaxy against NYRB, a conference final against Salt Lake, a MLS Cup against Houston, *and* a two-legged Euro play-in for Ireland against Estonia. GOAT (and that's not being sarcastic or dismissive of the league at all.)
Robbie Keane is legit my favorite Euro star to come over. He dominated, but in a way that was super engaging if that makes sense.
 

sodenj5

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I'm not even sure what the point you're making is. Lionel Messi signed with an MLS team today. Of all the days to denigrate the MLS, this seems like trolling. I guess I'm reading your post as saying, "well, this doesn't change anything for me about my opinion about MLS," which is . . . I dunno. Ok.

You've already called it an illegitimate league, so I think we understand where you stand. (Maybe I'm over reading what you were trying to express, but the idea that it's a league that needs legitimizing is certainly not a consensus opinion.) And you're certainly not the only one to feel that way. I disagree. I love MLS, but know others don't. But, whatever, reasonable disagreement and all. The timing seems weird.

And "retirement league" is just an unnecessarily pejorative way to make a point. Every league in soccer has a level up in terms of competition. I think everyone has a general agreement about how good MLS is, and it's not as good as the very best leagues in the world. Which means that for the very best players in the world, coming to MLS means they will do so where their level of play is commensurate with the standard of play in the league -- which by and large means when they are older. So if "retirement league" is just euphemism for "not yet one of the best leagues in the world," then ok. I don't know anyone who would disagree.

But again, what's the point? The league is getting better and better and better each year.

As evidenced by the fact that they just attracted a player who was the best in the world and still has gas in the tank. Which is my timing point.
My original point was someone threw out the term retirement league, and I said, for any top European talent, it is. That doesn’t mean the league is bad or that there isn’t talent there, but that’s pretty much indisputable. “Retirement league” is probably a bit pejorative, I agree, but we all seem to be on the same page here.

Messi didn’t come to MLS off of a Ballon D’Or and with a World Cup to play for. He went to PSG for that. He’s coming to MLS because the World Cup is off the bucket list and Apple, Adidas, and MLS are throwing a massive bag at him, which is 100% fine.

My gripe with the league is if MLS is going to change the rules to allow Miami to build a team around Messi, it makes it very difficult to take the league seriously. Either don’t have the rules at all, or apply them.

If Tom Brady decided to come out of retirement tomorrow to play for the Patriots again, would you like it if the commissioner made a new rule stating that every team gets a salary cap exemption for a player over 40? Tom Brady draws eyeballs. He sells jerseys and Sunday Ticket subscriptions, right?
 

SocrManiac

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Messi is not 40+ Tom Brady. He was extremely productive for a very dysfunctional PSG side.

Comparing soccer and football is silly. Messi is a global star in a way no NFL player could achieve. Hell, he’s probably one of the biggest stars the world has ever known irrespective of sport, coming of age in the connected world we now live in. Yes, you break or invent rules to bring him into your league. Every single MLS club will see a boost from his presence. He’ll draw fans in, he’ll expand the league In a way nobody outside of maybe Ronaldo currently could (and Ronaldo wouldn’t be anywhere near as beloved as Messi will be). PSG lost millions of Instagram followers within hours of the final whistle in their last match of the season.

The brutal travel is the one piece that would concern me. Every transplant has talked about it. He’ll either adapt or he won’t. I suspect he’ll have a bit more help with this than anybody before him.
 

sodenj5

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Messi is not 40+ Tom Brady. He was extremely productive for a very dysfunctional PSG side.

Comparing soccer and football is silly. Messi is a global star in a way no NFL player could achieve. Hell, he’s probably one of the biggest stars the world has ever known irrespective of sport, coming of age in the connected world we now live in. Yes, you break or invent rules to bring him into your league. Every single MLS club will see a boost from his presence. He’ll draw fans in, he’ll expand the league In a way nobody outside of maybe Ronaldo currently could (and Ronaldo wouldn’t be anywhere near as beloved as Messi will be). PSG lost millions of Instagram followers within hours of the final whistle in their last match of the season.

The brutal travel is the one piece that would concern me. Every transplant has talked about it. He’ll either adapt or he won’t. I suspect he’ll have a bit more help with this than anybody before him.
I don’t want to drive the train completely off the tracks here, because this is the Soccer forum and I thought making a Tom Brady reference on a Boston board would be pretty universally grasped here.

Brady won the MVP at 40. He threw for over 5,000 yards at 44. If Messi’s chapter in MLS is anywhere near as successful as Brady’s chapter in Tampa Bay, it would be the greatest signing in the history of MLS.

And we’re going to have to agree to disagree regarding the rules for Messi. If you want to bring in Messi to a bottom tier team, then let him play for a bottom tier team. No one will take your teams and league seriously when you just put your thumb on the scale to unilaterally give a single team an advantage over the other teams.
 

lars10

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I don’t want to drive the train completely off the tracks here, because this is the Soccer forum and I thought making a Tom Brady reference on a Boston board would be pretty universally grasped here.

Brady won the MVP at 40. He threw for over 5,000 yards at 44. If Messi’s chapter in MLS is anywhere near as successful as Brady’s chapter in Tampa Bay, it would be the greatest signing in the history of MLS.

And we’re going to have to agree to disagree regarding the rules for Messi. If you want to bring in Messi to a bottom tier team, then let him play for a bottom tier team. No one will take your teams and league seriously when you just put your thumb on the scale to unilaterally give a single team an advantage over the other teams.
They’ve been doing similar things for teams all over the league for the entire history of the league… NYC, LA or Chicago have got some very favorable decisions sent their way.. Beckham didn’t end up in Houston.. he picked LA etc
 

DJnVa

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Robbie Keane is legit my favorite Euro star to come over. He dominated, but in a way that was super engaging if that makes sense.
Robbie Keane was kind of the first international player I "liked" and when he went to Tottenham, that made the Spurs my team.
 

Titans Bastard

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They’ve been doing similar things for teams all over the league for the entire history of the league… NYC, LA or Chicago have got some very favorable decisions sent their way.. Beckham didn’t end up in Houston.. he picked LA etc
Yeah, basically the league created the Designated Player Rule so that the LA Galaxy could pay Beckham's salary because the salary budget rules pre-DP would have made anybody signing Beckham impossible.

I'm trying to think of where the league has put the thumb on the scale in favor of various clubs in recent years but I'm blanking. Can MLS fans out there think of anything? There was a lot of nonsense in the 90s and 00s, but it's really dropped off hard since then.

Ironically, two of the theoretically Favored Children (LA Galaxy and Inter Miami) are both under sanctions/punishments from the league for fudging stuff around the salary cap with unreported compensation. One former Miami exec got banned from the league.

It's possible that MLS will change rules to accommodate Miami's potential signing of some of Messi's buddies from Barça, but let's note that this has not yet actually happened.
 

SocrManiac

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I don't think people are understanding how fucking big Messi is.

View: https://twitter.com/FootballTalkHQ/status/1666696583268761605


"Lionel Messi's PSG jerseys generated $130M in sales last year, more than the total revenue for the top-earning MLS team, LAFC ($116M). "

I found the $116mm revenue number corroborated by a Forbes article (probably the source). I can't find anything reliable on his jersey numbers. There is reporting that he sold a quarter million shirts in the first hour after his PSG announcement.
 

67YAZ

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I don't think people are understanding how fucking big Messi is.

View: https://twitter.com/FootballTalkHQ/status/1666696583268761605


"Lionel Messi's PSG jerseys generated $130M in sales last year, more than the total revenue for the top-earning MLS team, LAFC ($116M). "

I found the $116mm revenue number corroborated by a Forbes article (probably the source). I can't find anything reliable on his jersey numbers. There is reporting that he sold a quarter million shirts in the first hour after his PSG announcement.
This is exactly why Adidas are working so hard to midwife this move. They hold a ton of leverage with their current MLS contract and it undercuts their biggest rival.
 

lars10

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This is exactly why Adidas are working so hard to midwife this move. They hold a ton of leverage with their current MLS contract and it undercuts their biggest rival.
Wonder how much Adidas made off his WC jersey sales..
 

Kliq

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No one will take your teams and league seriously when you just put your thumb on the scale to unilaterally give a single team an advantage over the other teams.
Pretty much every league in Europe is set up to cater to a small handful of teams, which are the biggest, most popular clubs, who win the league every single year. The rules and machinations may be different, like how Barca/Real Madrid get a bulk of all La Liga TV revenue, so they are the only clubs that can afford to sign elite players, but that is basically how the game of soccer works. The major difference here is the thumb is being put on the scale for the worst team in the league, as opposed to permanently being on the scale to help the interminable champion.
 

Senator Donut

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The Athletic had a great four paragraph summary on Messi's impact at PSG:

If the numbers PSG reported during Messi’s stay in Paris were any indication, Inter Miami will become among the most popular brands in American sports. According to a report from Marca, PSG generated €700million in revenue over the course of one year after his arrival.

The report cites an investigation by Argentine outlet El Economista, which reported that since Messi joined the club, PSG had added 10 new sponsorship deals ranging from €3m to €8m each. Image rights and match day sales also skyrocketed, as did demand for Messi’s No. 30 PSG shirt. In July 2021, Diario Ole in Argentina revealed that only Real Madrid had sold more shirts than PSG since Messi’s arrival in France, with 60 percent of PSG shirts sold being Messi’s.

On social media, PSG saw its following increase astronomically. PSG gained 5.6 million followers the week after announcing Messi’s signing and have since added 15 million new followers across its social media platforms. PSG also became the most followed French company on Instagram. Messi’s personal Instagram following of 468 million dwarfs LeBron James’ 154 million and Tom Brady’s 14 million.

Messi’s departure had it’s own effect on the brand: PSG lost 2 million followers on Instagram in the weeks after it became clear he wouldn’t return.

https://theathletic.com/4590227/2023/06/07/messi-mls-inter-miami-american-soccer-impact/

I'm very interested in the Apple TV aspect. Apple owns worldwide rights to MLS. I'm curious if they will be able to monetize MLS Season Pass in places like Argentina and Barcelona.
 

67YAZ

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Wonder how much Adidas made off his WC jersey sales..
I’m not seeing specific numbers, but the his jersey was fucking sold out worldwide in December. Sold out. Like, the honchos at Adidas couldn’t even dream big enough for the moment as it unfolded.

These contracts aren’t fully public and numbers are often reported second or third hand, sometimes by people with an agenda. My outside assessment is that Adidas’ long standing relationships with Argentina and Messi means those contracts are more favorable than the MLS contract. In general, these deals work such that the club/player gets an advance, the company keeps all revenue until their costs have been recouped, and then there’s a negotiated royalty structure. Argentina and Messi have a lot of leverage with a massive track record of sales - they likely get a some of the biggest advances and royalty rates for a national team and individual.

Conversely, MLS just signed a 6 year extension with Adidas in February - $830m total, or about $138m per season for the league. Real Madrid’s Adidas deal is worth up to $152m annually. For just one club.

There’s teams of lawyers banging this out, which is why it’s going to take some weeks before we see Messi holding up a pink jersey (and Adidas would love to have it in production already for that moment). Adidas is definitely going to be the biggest beneficiary of increased jersey sales, and Messi is going to get his cut, too. We’ll see if MLS can leverage a taste of that action.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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I'm very interested in the Apple TV aspect. Apple owns worldwide rights to MLS. I'm curious if they will be able to monetize MLS Season Pass in places like Argentina and Barcelona.
The non-US market for MLS Season Pass has expanded from "expats, weirdos and people whose favorite national team player is in MLS" to "fans of the world's most popular athlete". Apple will monetize the shit out of this.
 

lars10

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I’m not seeing specific numbers, but the his jersey was fucking sold out worldwide in December. Sold out. Like, the honchos at Adidas couldn’t even dream big enough for the moment as it unfolded.

These contracts aren’t fully public and numbers are often reported second or third hand, sometimes by people with an agenda. My outside assessment is that Adidas’ long standing relationships with Argentina and Messi means those contracts are more favorable than the MLS contract. In general, these deals work such that the club/player gets an advance, the company keeps all revenue until their costs have been recouped, and then there’s a negotiated royalty structure. Argentina and Messi have a lot of leverage with a massive track record of sales - they likely get a some of the biggest advances and royalty rates for a national team and individual.

Conversely, MLS just signed a 6 year extension with Adidas in February - $830m total, or about $138m per season for the league. Real Madrid’s Adidas deal is worth up to $152m annually. For just one club.

There’s teams of lawyers banging this out, which is why it’s going to take some weeks before we see Messi holding up a pink jersey (and Adidas would love to have it in production already for that moment). Adidas is definitely going to be the biggest beneficiary of increased jersey sales, and Messi is going to get his cut, too. We’ll see if MLS can leverage a taste of that action.
I got an Argentine away jersey at the adidas store around that time but I believe they were completely out of numbers… a Messi Miami jersey would be pretty cool..
 

InstaFace

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So I'm going to take this post in good faith, sodenj, and assume that you're not really a soccer fan. If you are, please correct me.
My original point was someone threw out the term retirement league, and I said, for any top European talent, it is. That doesn’t mean the league is bad or that there isn’t talent there, but that’s pretty much indisputable. “Retirement league” is probably a bit pejorative, I agree, but we all seem to be on the same page here.

Messi didn’t come to MLS off of a Ballon D’Or and with a World Cup to play for. He went to PSG for that. He’s coming to MLS because the World Cup is off the bucket list and Apple, Adidas, and MLS are throwing a massive bag at him, which is 100% fine.

My gripe with the league is if MLS is going to change the rules to allow Miami to build a team around Messi, it makes it very difficult to take the league seriously. Either don’t have the rules at all, or apply them.

If Tom Brady decided to come out of retirement tomorrow to play for the Patriots again, would you like it if the commissioner made a new rule stating that every team gets a salary cap exemption for a player over 40? Tom Brady draws eyeballs. He sells jerseys and Sunday Ticket subscriptions, right?
Couple things here:

(1) MLS fans will bristle about the term "Retirement league", because it's used as an epithet pretty much just for MLS and not for any of the other hundreds of pro football leagues around the world which aren't as good as the Big 5. Understand that the process of MLS becoming not-a-joke has been a long and hard one. Rodney Dangerfield got more respect than MLS does. Their first ~10 years of existence, MLS was a joke, a bet on long-term growth, and competitively was clearly outside the top 50 leagues of the world. Then Beckham came in 2007, maybe not at the height of his powers but still very effective, and MLS created the DP rules for him and it has paid off massively for the league. They rose over the next decade to inside the Top 30 leagues, and it stopped being a joke. Expansion has followed rapidly, large fan followings have been built. It hasn't been "a joke" for at least 10 years, and in fact at this point has risen to being in the #10-15 range, on par with, like, Argentina's domestic league, and clearly trending towards Brazil / Mexico for the best leagues in the world outside of Europe. There are a LOT of fans who have suffered for a long time for it to end up with this level of quality, because they bought into the vision and were willing to embrace the league, quirks and all. And now, as TB said, it is no longer the case that a star from Europe can come here, give less than 100%, and still have success. It's too good a league for that, now. If Leo Messi comes to MLS and half-asses it, he will end up like Gonzalo Higuain. So the label hasn't really fit for the last 10 years, and continuing to act like it's reinforcing a "the league is a joke" story is just an insult to the legions of devoted MLS fans who have watched it grow well past that status over the last ~20 years. Maybe you now understand this and I'm preaching to the choir, but I hope this adds some context.

(2) MLS's market positioning is kinda genius, but you have to follow things for a while to have a sense for it. MLS is nearly unique in that its country's size and wealth vastly exceed how good a football league it can support (along with Japan's, who have their own strategy). To take advantage of that, MLS has chosen to (A) spend some of its resources on stars that will pull in some casuals, (B) become a conduit league where we buy rising Latin American talent, incubate for a few years, and then sell to the Big 5 at a profit, and (C) put in place US-sports-style salary cap rules that are unique in global football to try and drive parity and greater fan interest. The fact that you can be a star and want to get paid like one, and still find a home and a paycheck like that in a salary capped league, is a feat of league-rule engineering. It enables a team like Toronto to bring in legit, still-in-their-prime Big 5 stars and pay them like Big 5 stars, but also is competitive enough that if the rest of the team sucks (as it did and does), they will not find success. If you don't appreciate this blend of marketing glitz and competitive parity, that's fine, but let's not act like bringing Messi in as an investment in Plank A of the strategy is some sort of evidence of failure or stupidity. Because it's just the opposite, it's executing on a plan that has worked spectacularly.

(3) As for "changing the rules to bring over Messi", the rules have not changed, to my understanding. The rules changed to bring over Beckham in 2007, with the DP rule. And as it has evolved over time, teams can now have up to 3 "Designated" Players on their roster who can be paid anything the team wants, and only count as ~$650k against the salary cap. Which means you can bring in a few stars, but not populate a whole team with them and "buy the league" - you still have to build a smart roster top-to-bottom. I don't expect this to change with Messi, they'll just be paying him more than other DPs. The only difference is that Apple and Adidas are ponying up to add to that comp package, but his team is still limited to 3 high-paid stars. As discussed upthread, there is still a nontrivial chance that Inter Miami sucks, even with Leo fuckin' Messi on the squad. Some work still has to be done to make sure that's not the case. So unless you thought 16 years ago that the Beckham DP rule "made it hard to take the league seriously", nothing going on here should change your view of MLS. Shaqiri went from Liverpool to Chicago 18 months later, still being paid EPL money, and is a visible negative on the field (just ask 67Yaz). Bernardeschi went straight from title-winning Juventus to Toronto, along with Insigne straight from Napoli - both of them still regulars for the Italian national team - and their team sucks. Which seems like a pretty respectable amount of evidence for the idea that the DP rule doesn't make the league a joke.


There are a lot of Liga MX fans who may be about to discover just how badly they've been underrating MLS, in only about a month's time. You can join them in rooting against MLS, or join the fans here in rooting for an MLS surprise, but I'd encourage you either way to not be a bystander, because it'll be fun. Heck, I myself am not even an MLS fan, but I'm rooting for the league because I think it'll help build our ascendancy in the global football pecking order.
 
Last edited:

sodenj5

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
6,628
CT
So I'm going to take this post in good faith, sodenj, and assume that you're not really a soccer fan. If you are, please correct me.

Couple things here:

(1) MLS fans will bristle about the term "Retirement league", because it's used as an epithet pretty much just for MLS and not for any of the other hundreds of pro football leagues around the world which aren't as good as the Big 5. Understand that the process of MLS becoming not-a-joke has been a long and hard one. Rodney Dangerfield got more respect than MLS does. Their first ~10 years of existence, MLS was a joke, a bet on long-term growth, and competitively was clearly outside the top 50 leagues of the world. Then Beckham came in 2007, maybe not at the height of his powers but still very effective, and MLS created the DP rules for him and it has paid off massively for the league. They rose over the next decade to inside the Top 30 leagues, and it stopped being a joke. Expansion has followed rapidly, large fan followings have been built. It hasn't been "a joke" for at least 10 years, and in fact at this point has risen to being in the #10-15 range, on par with, like, Argentina's domestic league, and clearly trending towards Brazil / Mexico for the best leagues in the world outside of Europe. There are a LOT of fans who have suffered for a long time for it to end up with this level of quality, because they bought into the vision and were willing to embrace the league, quirks and all. And now, as TB said, it is no longer the case that a star from Europe can come here, give less than 100%, and still have success. It's too good a league for that, now. If Leo Messi comes to MLS and half-asses it, he will end up like Gonzalo Higuain. So the label hasn't really fit for the last 10 years, and continuing to act like it's reinforcing a "the league is a joke" story is just an insult to the legions of devoted MLS fans who have watched it grow well past that status over the last ~20 years. Maybe you now understand this and I'm preaching to the choir, but I hope this adds some context.

(2) MLS's market positioning is kinda genius, but you have to follow things for a while to have a sense for it. MLS is nearly unique in that its country's size and wealth vastly exceed how good a football league it can support (along with Japan's, who have their own strategy). To take advantage of that, MLS has chosen to (A) spend some of its resources on stars that will pull in some casuals, (B) become a conduit league where we buy rising Latin American talent, incubate for a few years, and then sell to the Big 5 at a profit, and (C) put in place US-sports-style salary cap rules that are unique in global football to try and drive parity and greater fan interest. The fact that you can be a star and want to get paid like one, and still find a home and a paycheck like that in a salary capped league, is a feat of league-rule engineering. It enables a team like Toronto to bring in legit, still-in-their-prime Big 5 stars and pay them like Big 5 stars, but also is competitive enough that if the rest of the team sucks (as it did and does), they will not find success. If you don't appreciate this blend of marketing glitz and competitive parity, that's fine, but let's not act like bringing Messi in as an investment in Plank A of the strategy is some sort of evidence of failure or stupidity. Because it's just the opposite, it's executing on a plan that has worked spectacularly.

(2) As for "changing the rules to bring over Messi", the rules have not changed, to my understanding. The rules changed to bring over Beckham in 2007, with the DP rule. And as it has evolved over time, teams can now have up to 3 "Designated" Players on their roster who can be paid anything the team wants, and only count as ~$650k against the salary cap. Which means you can bring in a few stars, but not populate a whole team with them and "buy the league" - you still have to build a smart roster top-to-bottom. I don't expect this to change with Messi, they'll just be paying him more than other DPs. The only difference is that Apple and Adidas are ponying up to add to that comp package, but his team is still limited to 3 high-paid stars. As discussed upthread, there is still a nontrivial chance that Inter Miami sucks, even with Leo fuckin' Messi on the squad. Some work still has to be done to make sure that's not the case. So unless you thought 16 years ago that the Beckham DP rule "made it hard to take the league seriously", nothing going on here should change your view of MLS. Shaqiri went from Liverpool to Chicago 18 months later, still being paid EPL money, and is a visible negative on the field (just ask 67Yaz). Bernardeschi went straight from title-winning Juventus to Toronto, along with Insigne straight from Napoli - both of them still regulars for the Italian national team - and their team sucks. Which seems like a pretty respectable amount of evidence for the idea that the DP rule doesn't make the league a joke.


There are a lot of Liga MX fans who may be about to discover just how badly they've been underrating MLS, in only about a month's time. You can join them in rooting against MLS, or join the fans here in rooting for an MLS surprise, but I'd encourage you either way to not be a bystander, because it'll be fun. Heck, I myself am not even an MLS fan, but I'm rooting for the league because I think it'll help build our ascendancy in the global football pecking order.
Very informative post, and thank you for the long reply. I’m a very casual soccer fan. I follow the USMNT loosely, and watch some of the Champion’s League games for fun. I don’t have any alliance to MLS or a club in particular.

I am not rooting against MLS or for this to fail. I’m just trying to give my objective opinion, which is:
  • I don’t think Messi has anything left to play for or prove, so I think it’s fair to ask if we’re going to see world class Messi or a diminished version of that
  • If MLS bends the rules to accommodate Messi and some of his former Barca teammates, it seems kind of lame to me
I 100% understand why Messi is making the move (money) and why MLS wants to bring him to the US (also money). Your post seems to outline that MLS isn’t going to significantly alter their existing rules for Messi, which is good IMO.
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
22,851
Pittsburgh, PA
Yeah I'll grant that your #1 is an open question (which could very much go either way - and people with an axe to grind will argue that either Messi has declined more than expected, or the league is better than he or others expected). And #2 is, as you note, still only speculation.

If Miami dumps their DPs and brings in Busquets alongside Messi, and maybe offers a TAM deal to Alba (~$2M), it will be merely the most ambitious of the DP-focused roster building. But a difference only of degree, not of kind. Zlatan may have had as much left in the tank as Messi does now, and he was able to go back to a UCL level club after 2 years at the Galaxy (albeit to a sub role). It may matter to Messi to make at least as much of a difference in MLS as Zlatan did.

Also, talk about one-upping Ronaldo yet again. CR7 goes off to well-paid irrelevance in KSA, while Messi maintains his global attention and a fascinating storyline. MLS may not be La Liga, but the Saudi league makes MLS look like the EPL.
 

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
SoSH Member
Apr 15, 2006
8,721
Somers, CT
His family just had a horrible two years in France. He may see Miami as a much friendlier alternative than the absolute cash-in of Qatar or KSA.
 

Titans Bastard

has sunil gulati in his sights
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 15, 2002
14,494
Bernardeschi went straight from title-winning Juventus to Toronto, along with Insigne straight from Napoli - both of them still regulars for the Italian national team - and their team sucks. Which seems like a pretty respectable amount of evidence for the idea that the DP rule doesn't make the league a joke.
Shocker:

Lorenzo Insigne: I didn't expect MLS to be as difficult as it is

My favorite Europe-to-MLS anecdote was when Atlanta United signed an English player who was quoted talking about how hot it had become in training. In April.
 

rguilmar

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
1,893
If we see a diminished version of Messi it will be because his body can no longer do what it used to be able to do, not because he doesn’t have something to prove. He has a near maniacal hatred of losing on the soccer field, and stories of his competitiveness at practice are similar to MJ or Kobe (just not as vocal). The man loves to play the game and he hates losing. Of course, he’s bound to lose a step and his body had taken an absolute beating over the years. I think people forget how much more physical the game was 15 years ago and how much teams just decided to hammer away at Messi and company as the only way to stop that machine.

In short, we will get the best Messi possible. He won’t have the attitude that this is a retirement league. Calling MLS a retirement league because Messi went there is unfair to both the league and to Messi. If he steps on the field, he will want to to win. He is not capable of half assing it. That’s who he is. He’s going to Miami because Barcelona wasn’t a real option, his family wasn’t interested in living in Saudi Arabia, he can live a relatively laid back lifestyle (it won’t be a scene out of 28 Days Later every time he goes out), and there will be benefits for Messi the Businessman (he was roommates with Pique).

Now it’s on MLS and AppleTV to use this as a springboard to sell the story of the league. I would also love to see things like increasing DPs, increasing salary cap, getting rid of TAM/FLAM/whatevers, getting rid of stupid territories and claiming players, giving salary benefits to homegrown players, and generally taking the salary training wheels off. Groups are dropping $500 million for a franchise now. Others are more in tune with salary structures than I am and the likelihood of meaningful changes, but it appears like there are still significant restrictions that limit teams.
 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
11,776
So I'm going to take this post in good faith, sodenj, and assume that you're not really a soccer fan. If you are, please correct me.

Couple things here:

(1) MLS fans will bristle about the term "Retirement league", because it's used as an epithet pretty much just for MLS and not for any of the other hundreds of pro football leagues around the world which aren't as good as the Big 5. Understand that the process of MLS becoming not-a-joke has been a long and hard one. Rodney Dangerfield got more respect than MLS does. Their first ~10 years of existence, MLS was a joke, a bet on long-term growth, and competitively was clearly outside the top 50 leagues of the world. Then Beckham came in 2007, maybe not at the height of his powers but still very effective, and MLS created the DP rules for him and it has paid off massively for the league. They rose over the next decade to inside the Top 30 leagues, and it stopped being a joke. Expansion has followed rapidly, large fan followings have been built. It hasn't been "a joke" for at least 10 years, and in fact at this point has risen to being in the #10-15 range, on par with, like, Argentina's domestic league, and clearly trending towards Brazil / Mexico for the best leagues in the world outside of Europe. There are a LOT of fans who have suffered for a long time for it to end up with this level of quality, because they bought into the vision and were willing to embrace the league, quirks and all. And now, as TB said, it is no longer the case that a star from Europe can come here, give less than 100%, and still have success. It's too good a league for that, now. If Leo Messi comes to MLS and half-asses it, he will end up like Gonzalo Higuain. So the label hasn't really fit for the last 10 years, and continuing to act like it's reinforcing a "the league is a joke" story is just an insult to the legions of devoted MLS fans who have watched it grow well past that status over the last ~20 years. Maybe you now understand this and I'm preaching to the choir, but I hope this adds some context.

(2) MLS's market positioning is kinda genius, but you have to follow things for a while to have a sense for it. MLS is nearly unique in that its country's size and wealth vastly exceed how good a football league it can support (along with Japan's, who have their own strategy). To take advantage of that, MLS has chosen to (A) spend some of its resources on stars that will pull in some casuals, (B) become a conduit league where we buy rising Latin American talent, incubate for a few years, and then sell to the Big 5 at a profit, and (C) put in place US-sports-style salary cap rules that are unique in global football to try and drive parity and greater fan interest. The fact that you can be a star and want to get paid like one, and still find a home and a paycheck like that in a salary capped league, is a feat of league-rule engineering. It enables a team like Toronto to bring in legit, still-in-their-prime Big 5 stars and pay them like Big 5 stars, but also is competitive enough that if the rest of the team sucks (as it did and does), they will not find success. If you don't appreciate this blend of marketing glitz and competitive parity, that's fine, but let's not act like bringing Messi in as an investment in Plank A of the strategy is some sort of evidence of failure or stupidity. Because it's just the opposite, it's executing on a plan that has worked spectacularly.

(3) As for "changing the rules to bring over Messi", the rules have not changed, to my understanding. The rules changed to bring over Beckham in 2007, with the DP rule. And as it has evolved over time, teams can now have up to 3 "Designated" Players on their roster who can be paid anything the team wants, and only count as ~$650k against the salary cap. Which means you can bring in a few stars, but not populate a whole team with them and "buy the league" - you still have to build a smart roster top-to-bottom. I don't expect this to change with Messi, they'll just be paying him more than other DPs. The only difference is that Apple and Adidas are ponying up to add to that comp package, but his team is still limited to 3 high-paid stars. As discussed upthread, there is still a nontrivial chance that Inter Miami sucks, even with Leo fuckin' Messi on the squad. Some work still has to be done to make sure that's not the case. So unless you thought 16 years ago that the Beckham DP rule "made it hard to take the league seriously", nothing going on here should change your view of MLS. Shaqiri went from Liverpool to Chicago 18 months later, still being paid EPL money, and is a visible negative on the field (just ask 67Yaz). Bernardeschi went straight from title-winning Juventus to Toronto, along with Insigne straight from Napoli - both of them still regulars for the Italian national team - and their team sucks. Which seems like a pretty respectable amount of evidence for the idea that the DP rule doesn't make the league a joke.


There are a lot of Liga MX fans who may be about to discover just how badly they've been underrating MLS, in only about a month's time. You can join them in rooting against MLS, or join the fans here in rooting for an MLS surprise, but I'd encourage you either way to not be a bystander, because it'll be fun. Heck, I myself am not even an MLS fan, but I'm rooting for the league because I think it'll help build our ascendancy in the global football pecking order.
The current Saudi league throwing big money at players gets referred to as a retirement league. as did China when they were throwing out huge contracts. So it's not just the MLS. This isn't about a player finding his level during his post peak years, slowly moving down tiers of teams and then leagues, it's about taking a big payout to be a marketing tool for a league. And from the perspective of the league and their fans, it's not a dumb move. The extra attention from abroad will bring in more cash to keep young stars here and attract foreign talent, and if it can drive more fans to pay attention to their domestic league it can help build the fanbase, justify new football specific stadiums, etc. This doesn't mean the league is any better than it was a few years ago (it might be, but this isn't proof in any way), it just means they're willing to put on a big money marketing push, which should make MLS fans happy. It's much better than the league and teams not wanting to invest in the league. Like you know, my local team owner not wanting to invest in a stadium.
 

Senator Donut

post-Domer
SoSH Member
Apr 21, 2010
5,641
The numbers are staggering.

View: https://twitter.com/fos/status/1666801890732982273


"The Messi Effect: In 24 hours, Inter Miami has gone from 1 million to more than 5 million Instagram followers. More than any NFL, MLB, NHL, or MLS team. "
In the 24 more hours since this tweet was published, Inter Miami is already at 6.6 million. I’m just starting to get it through my head that this is so much bigger than Beckham, especially outside the population of English-speakers. Obviously the league is also much better too, but this has crazy potential. Don’t forget a local World Cup is right around the corner.
 

Zososoxfan

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 30, 2009
9,357
South of North
His family just had a horrible two years in France. He may see Miami as a much friendlier alternative than the absolute cash-in of Qatar or KSA.
Uhhh, the Argentine population in Miami (specifically Aventura and N Miami Beach area) is staggering. I was in Miami Beach for a wedding the weekend of the WC Final and drove up to my dad's place in Hollywood Beach for the match. 3 hours before kickoff, there were lines around the block at every bar that was open. The biggest line was for a watch party at a bandshell. Messi will be right at home. I'm super curious where he decides to live. Maybe neighbors with Wade on Golden Beach?!??

If we see a diminished version of Messi it will be because his body can no longer do what it used to be able to do, not because he doesn’t have something to prove. He has a near maniacal hatred of losing on the soccer field, and stories of his competitiveness at practice are similar to MJ or Kobe (just not as vocal). The man loves to play the game and he hates losing. Of course, he’s bound to lose a step and his body had taken an absolute beating over the years. I think people forget how much more physical the game was 15 years ago and how much teams just decided to hammer away at Messi and company as the only way to stop that machine.

In short, we will get the best Messi possible. He won’t have the attitude that this is a retirement league. Calling MLS a retirement league because Messi went there is unfair to both the league and to Messi. If he steps on the field, he will want to to win. He is not capable of half assing it. That’s who he is. He’s going to Miami because Barcelona wasn’t a real option, his family wasn’t interested in living in Saudi Arabia, he can live a relatively laid back lifestyle (it won’t be a scene out of 28 Days Later every time he goes out), and there will be benefits for Messi the Businessman (he was roommates with Pique).

Now it’s on MLS and AppleTV to use this as a springboard to sell the story of the league. I would also love to see things like increasing DPs, increasing salary cap, getting rid of TAM/FLAM/whatevers, getting rid of stupid territories and claiming players, giving salary benefits to homegrown players, and generally taking the salary training wheels off. Groups are dropping $500 million for a franchise now. Others are more in tune with salary structures than I am and the likelihood of meaningful changes, but it appears like there are still significant restrictions that limit teams.
Agree with this. I wonder if Messi will have one of those clauses where he's exempt from playing on any pitch that isn't natural grass. After playing on artificial turf for years (and decent turf too, not the thin carpet crap), I can report that it's brutal on the joints.

I also want to ask our MLS heads here if the league is still as physical as it was say 5-10 years ago. I used to think that MLS made a mistake in taking a more CONCACAF approach to reffing as opposed to say, La Liga. The styles I've seen recently (admittedly few and far between) are essentially ersatz EPL. IOW, fast aggressive attacking and counterpressing, but without the necessary skill. I did see one CONCACAF CL match where the US club was playing real possession soccer, but my impression is that the league values athleticism and physicality over skill.
 

Titans Bastard

has sunil gulati in his sights
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 15, 2002
14,494
In the 24 more hours since this tweet was published, Inter Miami is already at 6.6 million. I’m just starting to get it through my head that this is so much bigger than Beckham, especially outside the population of English-speakers. Obviously the league is also much better too, but this has crazy potential. Don’t forget a local World Cup is right around the corner.
And Copa América next summer!

I'm super curious where he decides to live. Maybe neighbors with Wade on Golden Beach?!??
Don't count on it — Wade & his family have fled Florida because of its anti-LGBTQ laws.[/QUOTE]
 

Zososoxfan

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 30, 2009
9,357
South of North
And Copa América next summer!



Don't count on it — Wade & his family have fled Florida because of its anti-LGBTQ laws.
[/QUOTE]

D'oh, you're right and I remember reading that headline. So Golden Beach next to other stupidly wealthy folks. Maybe he goes for one of the posh HOAs in PBC? Maybe he just buys or builds a fortress? I know he lived in a very upscale but secluded suburb of Barca, but I'm not sure what would even qualify as equivalent in Miami.