Lionel Messi: All MLS clubs ready to combine to pay Argentine’s salary for US move

The clubs currently competing in the MLS have reportedly made plans for a united effort in order to lure Lionel Messi to the United States.

According to Spanish paper SPORT, owners of the Major League Soccer teams had a meeting around six weeks ago to discuss Messi. After a discussion, the clubs have apparently hatched an astonishing plan that would change the landscape of their league.

Each club has agreed to pay a portion of the PSG star’s enormous wage package… Even if he does not play for them. Obviously, Messi can only play for one team – therefore, this decision gives him free rein to pick wherever he wants.

Competition-wise, adding Lionel Messi to a single team has an enormous benefit. So, why would all the clubs potentially agree to this?

Why a combined MLS bid is needed for Lionel Messi

Firstly, this plan is necessary due to salary limitations in the MLS. Like the other leading US sports leagues, Major League Soccer has a salary cap involved. As a result, Messi’s wage demands are not really within the structure of one single team.

However, the “designated player” (DP) rule means that he could still move to the US league. A designated player is one whose full wage does not count against the $5.2 million salary cap. Each team can have three of these players, who account for just over $600,000 each in the salary limit.

This rule came into effect in 2007 when David Beckham joined LA Galaxy in a £200 million deal.

Unfortunately, though, the salary that Lionel Messi may command could even transcend the MLS DP allowances. This is why all the clubs may work together to bring the maestro to the US.

It may be an opportunity that is too good to miss from a commercial perspective. As one of the most marketable figures in the world, Lionel Messi would draw incredible new audience levels to the MLS. This thus generates revenue for everyone, either through increased sponsorship or better TV deals.

In addition, with the 2026 World Cup on the horizon, the US will be keen to solidify its credibility on the world stage. They will host the next tournament alongside Canada and Mexico. Adding one of the game’s best-ever players to your league is a clear sign of intent, to say the least.

But, even with this all-in approach, the MLS still have a fight on their hands to secure Messi’s services.

PSG, Barca still in the running for star

Despite some tough defeats and patchy form in 2023, PSG are still keen on retaining Messi. Last week, the club’s president, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, said that he hopes to keep the Argentine and Kylian Mbappe in Paris next season.

PSG have a player option on their No.30 to extend his deal to 2024. Currently, they have not activated this clause. But, if they do, that seals Messi’s future for at least the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, Barcelona still holds hope that their former hero may return to Camp Nou. Joan Laporta has been open in his desire to seal Messi’s comeback to Barca. Most recently, he said that “the door is always open to him” to move back to his boyhood club.

The Catalan giants are still very limited financially, though, so they will almost certainly be outbid. Any potential pitch to Leo Messi would thus hinge on a romantic return “home” if you will.

Whether he stays in Europe or heads to the MLS, Lionel Messi may have a lot of decisions to make in the coming months.

Featured image credit: Getty