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Friedel reveals Messi's 'enormous' impact across America
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Cian Cheesbrough
Things are looking up for MLS with Lionel Messi on board
Things are looking up for MLS with Lionel Messi on board

Former USA No1 Brad Friedel says Lionel Messi has had an "enormous" impact on football in America since his arrival in Major League Soccer.

Eight-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi, 36, sparked frenzied scenes across the country when he joined Inter Miami last July, not long after winning the 2022 World Cup with Argentina.

He did not disappoint during his first few months with the Florida outfit, scoring 11 goals and providing five assists in 14 games.

And Friedel, who is based in Miami, has revealed the transformative effect the former Barcelona superstar has had on the football culture in the city and beyond.

The 52-year-old told LiveScore: "I'll put it to you this way, their stadium is up in Fort Lauderdale, they're building a new one in Miami at the moment. 

"But generally, you wouldn't have really known there was an MLS team here because everything was out of the city in Fort Lauderdale.

"But the second Messi signed, his face was everywhere, pink Inter Miami shirts were everywhere and on billboards. The impact has been enormous.

"The impact for Apple TV has been enormous, the impact in all the stadiums he travels to has been enormous.

"Just look at the pre-season tour, they're getting invited to go play in El Salvador, then they're going to Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia.

"MLS teams don't usually get invited to games like that. The impact is enormous, probably bigger than anyone could have imagined."

Lionel Messi has spiked interest in football in America
Lionel Messi has spiked interest in football in America

The 2024 MLS season, which will be Messi's first full campaign, kicks off next month and is set to be one of the most anticipated in the competition's history.

Friedel believes MLS was on an upward trajectory prior to the four-time Champions League winner's arrival and urged league chiefs to ensure the piqued interest can lead to sustainable growth.

Speaking ahead of Miami's friendly against Al-Hilal this evening, the former Columbus Crew goalkeeper and New England Revolution manager added: "The league has been growing, regardless of whether Messi came or not. 

"It's just about getting the television companies on board and getting the large sponsors on board to achieve long-term survival.

"That's why the Premier League is so great. Over here we've been struggling to get that large lucrative television contract so hopefully this can instigate more discussions."


Lionel MessiInter Miami CFMajor League Soccer
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