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Messi co-favorite to win MLS scoring title despite 13-goal deficit

Stacy Revere / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Lionel Messi has flat-out dominated the competition since making his Inter Miami debut on July 21 versus Cruz Azul in Leagues Cup play.

The Argentinian megastar, who has yet to make his MLS regular-season debut, has potted eight goals in five appearances for the Herons. As a result, oddsmakers made Messi the co-favorite to lead the league in scoring despite him facing a 13-goal deficit for the top spot.

MLS top goalscorer odds (regular season)

Player Odds Total Goals Games Remaining
Lionel Messi +350 0 12
Hany Mukhtar +350 13 10
Denis Bouanga +550 12 11
Luciano Acosta +550 12 11
Georgios Giakoumakis +800 10 10
Jesus Ferreira +1200 10 11
Julian Carranza +1200 10 11

(Odds via theScore Bet)

Messi made his presence felt immediately with his new club, scoring in his first game on a free-kick in stoppage time to secure the win for Miami. And he hasn't stopped scoring since.

His eight goals led Inter Miami to five straight victories, and oddsmakers have seen more than enough to realize they under projected what the GOAT can do in MLS.

Messi's top goalscorer odds

Date Odds Implied probability
July 5 (opening) +4000 2.4%
July 24 +2500 3.8%
July 26 +1500 6.3%
Aug. 6 +900 10%
Aug. 7 +450 18.2%
Aug. 14 (current) +350 22.2%

If Messi and Hany Mukhtar - the current league leader in goals - continue to score at their respective paces for the remainder of the regular season, Messi projects to end the campaign with 19.2 goals and Mukhtar with 18.4. That projection is using the assumption that Messi will continue his torrid pace of netting slightly over three goals every two games ... which sounds crazy to say out loud.

Leading the league in scoring isn't the only incomprehensible accomplishment oddsmakers believe - or fear - Messi is capable of with Miami this season. The Herons sit dead last in MLS with a 5-14-3 record for a measly 18 points. However, they have the third shortest odds of winning the MLS Cup.

Odds to win MLS Cup

Team Odds
FC Cincinati +450
LAFC +600
Inter Miami +650
Philadelphia +800
Saint Louis City SC +1000
New England +1100
Nashville SC +1400
Seattle +1400

Before the Messi-to-Miami rumors began to swirl in June, Miami's odds to win the league title were as long as +20000. Now, the club is down to +650 despite Messi not suiting up for a regular-season game yet.

Miami's odds to win MLS Cup

Date Odds Implied probability
June 6 +20000 0.5%
July 5 +5000 2%
July 28 +2800 3.4%
July 31 +1000 9.1%
Aug 14 +650 13.3%

Even if Messi can't pull off the unthinkable - both winning the scoring title and leading his last-place team to an MLS Cup - his presence in the league has made every Inter Miami game must-see TV going forward.

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