Lionel Messi will be inundated with demands to exchange shirts with other players while he is at Inter Miami, and on Tuesday night, there were already two guys vying for the opportunity to wear Messi’s jersey.
After scoring a sensational game-winning free kick in his debut on Friday against Cruz Azul, Messi made his debut at the DRV PNK Stadium on Saturday, making his first start there.
In a 4-0 victory over Atlanta United in the League Cup, the seven-time winner of the Ballon d’Or scored twice within the first 22 minutes of the match and helped his teammate Robert Taylor, who also scored twice.
In just two matches since signing a contract with the Major League Soccer club for the next two and a half years, Lionel Messi has already had a profound impact on the fortunes of a struggling team.
‘Messi Mania’ exists, and it affects both opposing players and supporters. Messi is not a fan of shirt swapping and famously stated that he only sought to swap with Zinedine Zidane when he was younger.
Nonetheless, he has a sizable shirt collection and frequently makes an exception for his fellow Argentines. His most recent opponents, Atlanta, had two compatriots who both desired his shirt.
But it was Thiago Almada, 22, of Argentina’s World Cup-winning squad, who received the souvenir.
Messi had hugged the former Velez Sarsfield prodigy during the warm-up and again as he exited the field in the 78th minute.
The two then shared another moment at the end of the game and swapped jerseys.
Messi walked down the tunnel wearing Almada’s shirt, but on Apple TV footage, he was approached by another Argentine.
Santiago Sosa approached Messi and begged for his top, but he appeared to explain that he’d already given it to Almada.
Nonetheless, Sosa removed his shirt and presented it to Messi, who received it politely.
Messi has an excellent relationship with Almada and asked for MLS intel, however, the brilliant midfielder didn’t want to give too much away.
“He inquired about the league, the tournament, and how the games went. “However, I was speechless,” Almada reveɑled to Fansided.
“He went to a great club, and he will undoubtedly help Inter Miami grow significantly.” People are insɑne; he’ll have a great time and be well accepted.”
Messi’s shirt sales at Inter are already off the charts, with Adidas reporting “unprecedented” demand and pre-ordered jerseys not expected to arrive until October at the earliest.
The Barcelona icon will receive a sizable part of all shirts sold by Adidas, with whom he has a lifelong contract.
Messi and Inter have advanced to the League Cup round of 32, where they will face Orlando City, Houston Dynamo, or Santos Laguna.