All you need to know about Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami debut, from the date and time to the opponents and TV details – plus suggestions that the club could yet make fans wait a little longer.
After jetting in to Florida last weekend to confirm his long-awaited signing, Lionel Messi is poised to play his first match for Inter Miami on Friday.
The arrival of one of the greatest footballers of all time in the biggest sports market in the world has ensured that anticipation is sky-high for his prospective debut.
Messi has nothing left to prove having won every major honour in the game, but there is much riding on his arrival in the US for Major League Soccer and its broadcaster Apple.
When is Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami debut?
Friday night’s match against Mexican side Cruz Azul is slated to be the Argentinian’s first in Inter Miami’s distinctive pink shirt.
The fixture is taking place at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the MLS club play their home games.
Kick-off is at 8pm local time, which converts to midnight in the UK for those over here planning to tune in for the occasion.
When is Lionel Messi’s MLS debut?
Observant readers might have twigged that Inter Miami v Cruz Azul is not an MLS game, since the visitors usually play in Liga MX across the border.
Instead it is one of the first fixtures in a new competition called the Leagues Cup, which features both MLS and Mexican teams in a World Cup format.
Messi’s MLS debut won’t come for another few weeks, after the Leagues Cup has been concluded; their next domestic league game is at home to Charlotte FC on 21 August.
Who else plays for Inter Miami?
Messi is by far the biggest star at the team but not the only one, with former Barcelona team-mate Sergio Busquets following him to the Sunshine State.
Their old colleague Jordi Alba has also just joined them, while former Liverpool forward Luiz Suarez could also be set to reprise his Barca link-up with Messi in Miami.
The other name on the Inter Miami roster that may be familiar to English followers is full-back DeAndre Yedlin, formerly of Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United.
Is Messi definitely playing against Cruz Azul?
David Beckham, co-owner of Inter Miami, appeared to suggest earlier this week that Messi wasn’t certain to take the field on Friday night, having only just arrived following a holiday.
But the 2022 World Cup winner has trained with his new team-mates this week and coach Tata Martino would be a brave man to leave him out of the squad after all the pre-match hype.
This is also a red-letter day for MLS chiefs and Apple, who have signed up to be US clubs’ exclusive broadcast partner in a $2.5bn, 10-year deal.
How can I watch Messi’s debut in the UK?
Anyone wanting to watch Inter Miami play Cruz Azul will need to subscribe to the MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.
In the UK it costs £14.99 per month or £99 for a whole year, if you fancy following Messi’s American adventure.
Apple did not respond when asked how many new customers have signed up for their MLS coverage since the legendary No10’s signing was announced.