Lionel Messi’s move to MLS side Inter Miami has allowed Gerard Pique to praise his ex-Barcelona teammate for growing the sport.

The Spanish veteran has spoken highly of his former pal, saying that the Argentine star’s transfer to Inter Miami was a major factor in the growth of soccer in America.

Piqué believes that the lure of Messi‘s arrival has increased interest in the sport on both sides of the Atlantic. The fact that he captained Argentina to a World Cup triumph further solidified his position as the greatest of all time.

During the 2000s and 2010s, Barcelona’s famed La Masia program produced a slew of superstars. This was true of both Pique and Messi since they had known each other from the academy and had later become first-team colleagues.

Pique played with his childhood club, Barcelona for most of his professional career until retiring in 2022. The veteran defender discussed the superstar’s legendary reputation and extensive playing career in an interview with ESPN.

What did Pique say about Messi?

“I see Leo happy, he fulfilled all his dreams when he started playing. The World Cup was the epitome of everything and I think that in Miami he is expanding soccer. With his image and the fact of playing in the MLS, he made the United States gain strength.”

He also mentioned the people who thought Messi wasn’t worthy of the spotlight because he hadn’t won a World Cup. Following the 2022 triumph over France, the Argentine silenced all those who dared to challenge him.

With eight Ballon d’Or titles to his name, Messi’s incredible career has sparked both adoration and disapproval. His former teammate believes any doubts about his brilliance were dispelled after his triumph in Qatar.

“Football people wanted Messi to be world champion. Especially because of the doubters who questioned his career, and said he was missing the World Cup. I think there are no longer any doubts. He is the best player in the history of football. He elevated Barcelona to another dimension”, Pique ended.

How did Messi change MLS scene?

Lionel Messi has had an unprecedented impact on the influence of soccer in the United States since joining Inter Miami. He stunned fans in his first season with 11 goals in 14 games.

Thus, the forward proved that his talent had not lessened, propelling the Herons to the status of MLS Cup contenders this year.

The 36-year-old had an impact right from the start of the 2024 season, contributing an assist in the win against Real Salt Lake. This bodes well for his future campaigns.

The buzz around Messi and Inter Miami is building as the squad prepares for their next encounter. They will face Los Angeles Galaxy next, and along comes a fast turnaround to face Orlando City.

The addition of Messi has raised not just the team’s aspirations but also David Beckham’s ownership and coach Gerardo Martino’s coaching staff. Moreover, he helped boost the league’s reputation, further solidifying his status as soccer’s absolute best.

Photo credit: IMAGO / El Mundo.