MLS commissioner Don Garber believes Lionel Messi’s arrival with Inter Miami will propel the league to new heights.
« We are on a rocket, » he said in an interview with beIN Sports.
Messi’s winning free kick in the last action of the match against Cruz Azul last Friday cemented this impression.
« MLS has been on such a trajectory for quite a while, » said the man who has been its commissioner since 1999.
“There may be quieter times, but there are always times when the energy around the league is stronger and when optimism increases.
« I think over time there will be expectations of the league, people will expect these special moments to happen, not wondering if this is the greatest moment in league history. »
Garber is obviously happy that ‘the best player in the history of soccer has chosen MLS’ and says the Argentine’s arrival highlights the league’s ‘boundless ambition’.
According to him, the perception that the rest of the planet has of the league will change radically in the coming years.
Don Garber, MLS commissioner since 1999.
Getty Images via AFP
In particular, Garber wants the league to get rid of its reputation as a league for retirees. Messi’s arrival at 36 is certainly not going to help.
“I think because a handful of big names came in at the end of their careers, everyone gave us that label. However, David Beckham was 31 years old and he then went to Milan and PSG.
“No one said AC Milan was a pensioners club when Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] went to play there two more years when he left Los Angeles.”
He said the international press likes to attach this image to his league, but said he’s very comfortable with the idea that the concept of designated player is reserved for players who have a strong heritage in terms of popularity.
David Beckham in training for Inter Miami.
Getty Images via AFP
To buckle the buckle
The fact that Messi moved to Miami to most likely wrap up his career kind of comes full circle, according to Garber.
The designated player rule was created when David Beckham arrived in Los Angeles. His contract also contained a clause allowing him to acquire a team for a reduced sum. That team is Inter Miami where Messi got his start a decade after Beckham left MLS.
“It came to realize a dream that David cherished. He wanted to have an impact and wanted to be involved and he said it from the first press conference, in 2014 [au sujet de Miami, NDLR]. David said he wanted to attract the best players, he wanted to do something great because he loves this league,” insists Garber.
“It doesn’t often happen that the stars align and you’re able to deliver the goods like that. David is a special guy, people don’t know how smart he is, how conscientious and hardworking he is,” added the commissioner.