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Report: Inter Miami increasingly confident of signing Messi

Catherine Steenkeste / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Inter Miami are growing increasingly confident they'll sign Lionel Messi ahead of the 2023 Major League Soccer season, reports David Ornstein of The Athletic.

David Beckham's MLS franchise is so optimistic, in fact, that club officials now "expect" Messi to arrive and are hopeful a contract will be sealed in the coming months, Ornstein adds.

Messi, 35, is scheduled to become a free agent next summer when his current deal with Paris Saint-Germain expires. If he doesn't agree to an extension by the end of the calendar year, he'll be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with any club of his choosing beginning in January.

PSG are reportedly working to prolong the Argentine icon's stay, while a return to former club Barcelona has also been touted. But Inter Miami's proposal is the most advanced, according to Ornstein, with the two parties having been in discussions over a move for "a couple of years."

Though Beckham and the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner have a good relationship, negotiations are being led by Jorge and Jose Mas, the brothers who co-own Inter Miami alongside the former England star. They've held "numerous" meetings with Messi's father, Jorge, Ornstein notes.

For now, conversations between the sides will be halted until after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where Messi will make his final appearance at the tournament with Argentina.

Inter Miami believe Messi and his family, who already own property in the city that boasts strong community ties to Latin America, will be persuaded to make the move by a variety of factors.

Messi, who'd instantly become the most high-profile acquisition in MLS history, would be the face of the league, and soccer in the United States, just as the country is gearing up to co-host the 2026 World Cup. On the pitch, Inter Miami are growing in stature, too. They reached the MLS playoffs for the first time this season and are working to build a squad capable of long-term success.

And, perhaps most importantly, the club continues to push forward with plans to construct Miami Freedom Park, the $1-billion complex that will eventually house Inter Miami's new 25,000-seat stadium.

Messi, who appears rejuvenated after a slow start to his PSG tenure, is back to his best this season. In 16 matches between Ligue 1 and the Champions League, the veteran superstar has recorded 11 goals and 13 assists.

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