Lionel Messi’s impending deal with Inter Miami has sparked excitement among fans of the Argentinian football star, driving huge numbers in social media and skyrocketing ticket sales.
While Messi has yet to put pen to paper, Inter Miami’s followers on Instagram quintupled since the World Cup winner revealed on Wednesday that he would be heading to the Major League Soccer club after his exit from French side Paris Saint-Germain.
Inter’s account had about 900,000 followers before Wednesday. Less than 24 hours after the news broke, that number had reached 5.7 million followers.
It now has more than 7.5 million followers across all social platforms and added more than five million new followers on the day of the announcement.
Ticketing technology company Logitix analysed ticket demand across the league in the 24 hours since Messi’s announcement and found there were four times the number of tickets sold on the secondary market for Inter Miami matches compared with the entire on-sale period of 169 days previous to that.
The average price for Inter Miami home matches increased from $31 to $152 while for away games they increased from $94 to $207, the company found.
The former Barcelona great dashed hopes of a reunion with the Spanish club where he thrived for nearly two decades before leaving to join PSG.
Barcelona was mired in debt when Messi left in 2021, and he was forced to wait in hopes of having his contract renewed. The Argentinian apparently wanted to return but he “didn’t want to be in the same situation again”, he told Spanish media.
He added that he wanted to “get out of the spotlight a bit” and focus more on his family after a “difficult time” with Paris Saint-Germain, but made it clear that he would have returned to Barcelona if the numbers had worked.
The 35-year-old chose Inter Miami despite reportedly having a much more lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia.
Messi is unlikely to make his debut for Inter Miami before late July.