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Time Magazine names Messi as ‘Athlete of the Year’



Time Magazine has named Lionel Messi as their “Athlete of the Year” for 2023 following a trailblazing season commemorated by an eighth Ballon d’Or award and his ground-breaking move to Major League Soccer’s(MLS) Inter Miami.

The magazine said that Messi had already had a transformative impact on the American sporting landscape, which has been historically slow to embrace soccer.

“Lionel Messi this year managed to do what once seemed impossible when he signed with Inter Miami: turning the US into a soccer country,” Time commented.

The 36-year-old Messi made his debut for Miami in July following an acrimonious departure from Paris Saint-Germain(PSG).

The World Cup winner also rebuffed a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia in favor of a new chapter in MLS.

The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner made an instant impact on Miami’s fortunes, playing a pivotal role in helping the team win the expanded Leagues Cup, a cross-border competition for teams from MLS and Mexico’s top flight.

Messi finished the campaign with 11 goals in 14 appearances across all competitions, but an injury towards the end of the season meant he was unable to help Miami force their way into the playoffs.

Messi was quoted by Time as saying that his first preference after PSG had been a fairytale return to Barcelona, but that move stalled over the club’s finances.

“I tried to return, and it did not happen,” Messi said, adding that he was also “thinking a lot” about joining the wave of overseas players who have headed to the Saudi Pro League.

“It was Saudi Arabia or MLS, and both options seemed very interesting to me,” Messi told the magazine.

Time said Messi’s arrival had driven a surge in attendance, ticket prices, merchandise sales, and viewership, revealing that on the day of his debut, subscriptions to Apple TV — which retains exclusive rights to MLS — had jumped by 110,000, a 1,700% increase over the previous day.

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