Explained: The ‘negative impact’ Lionel Messi has made at Inter Miami & why some fans ‘expected more’ from eight-time Ballon d’Or winner


Lionel Messi helped Inter Miami to their first trophy in 2023, but he has made a “negative impact” of sorts and some fans “expected more” from him.

The Argentine icon captured the imagination of an American audience when completing a stunning move to the United States. He delivered Leagues Cup glory within weeks of his arrival in Florida, but sat out the U.S. Open Cup final through injury and was unable to claim a play-off spot in the MLS Eastern Conference.

Messi’s presence in Miami has also meant that the club are no longer as connected with an ever-growing fan base as they once were, with Mike Longin of the Green Lot Gang supporters’ group telling Yahoo Sport: “What made Inter Miami special early on was we had a great supporter group and ownership was really close with the fans. My son has thrown an American football back and forth with [co-owner] Jorge Mas. I’ve drunk a beer with David Beckham. The club did a lot to build outreach. It’s different now. It’s gone from a family atmosphere to a professional atmosphere, which you’d expect. We were a young club and we grew up overnight.”

He added: “[Messi’s arrival] has had a somewhat negative impact on the match experience, because so many people are only there to see Messi; they don’t care about the rest of the team. When he’s not playing and he’s in his box in the stand, people are jumping over chairs to try and see him. We knew things would change. But we weren’t prepared for how much it would change and how much it would feel different. Messi didn’t play our last home game, and it was kind of nice to feel like this was the old stadium, this was the old tailgate. It kind of felt normal, and then Messi walked into his box, and it was, ‘OK, Messi is here. This is the new normal.’”

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While things are changing off the pitch for Inter Miami, on it they are becoming more competitive. Longin is delighted to have a historic piece of silverware in the cabinet, but admits that others have unrealistic expectations of Messi. He said: “I got to see my team win our first trophy in person. We’re four years old and we’ve got a trophy now. I am very happy with where we are. I have friends who are not. They expected more. They expected him to play every game and go destroy the league. The big hope is that Inter Miami gets a lot of fans out of this; that people come for Messi and stay. I’m not seeing a ton of it yet. A lot of it is pure Messi. In his first game, when he left the field and people left with him, I was heartbroken. It really bothered me. You’re still seeing that.”


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