Lionel Messi Says He Believes MLS Can Compete With European Leagues

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Lionel Messi knows better than anyone what it’s like to play at the absolute top of the soccer world.

Messi played the majority of his career at FC Barcelona, one of the world’s most famous and successful clubs. His time in La Liga was the stuff of legend; 10 league titles, seven Copa del Rey titles and four Champions League victories.

Then he moved to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue One, another one of the world’s top leagues. And he added three more trophies there too.

So when he gives his opinion on soccer quality, it matters. And even though he’s only been in MLS for less than a month, he already thinks the league is heading in the right direction. Even going so far as to say he thinks it can compete with the top European cups sooner rather than later.

“I think it has every opportunity to do so,” Messi said. “That growth depends a lot on the league. It’s an ideal moment to grow. There are important competitions upcoming that will be played in this country.”

“It’s time for the league to make that leap and finish growing, finish looking for what it’s been seeking for a while. Everything is in place here to witness top-level football because of the country, the structure, a bunch of things.”

Lionel Messi
Inter Miami’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his team’s third goal during the round of 32 Leagues Cup football match between Inter Miami CF and Orlando City SC at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on August 2, 2023. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Does Messi Have A Point?

Messi obviously has an incentive to promote MLS, having made the leap while still in demand across Europe.

And without adopting some of the key aspects of what makes say, the Premier League what it is, MLS isn’t likely to catch up anytime soon. There’s no relegation, no ability to poach young talent from Serie A or the Bundesliga.

And most of all, there’s not nearly the money available to convince top players to come to America.

The Saudi Pro League has taken to offering ungodly sums of money and off pitch benefits to entice big name players.


MLS isn’t capable of doing that in any meaningful way.

There’s as much athletic talent in the U.S. as anywhere, but until we display an ability to consistently churn out elite homegrown players, MLS can’t rely on its academies to compete with Europe.

Messi may have a point about the future tournaments coming to the U.S., primarily the World Cup in 2026. But it’s unlikely the league will be anywhere close to competing internationally by then.

Maybe if they can talk Kylian Mbappe into joining.

Written by Ian Miller

Ian Miller is a former award watching high school actor, author, and long suffering Dodgers fan. He spends most of his time golfing, traveling, reading about World War I history, and trying to get the remote back from his dog. Follow him on Twitter @ianmSC

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