Bradley Wright-Philips stunned by Lionel Messi’s decision to join the MLS
Bradley Wright-Philips believes that the Major League Soccer could become “unstoppable” following Lionel Messi’s switch to the league.
Lionel Messi joined Inter Miami after his two-year stint with Paris Saint Germain came to an end.
The 2022 world cup winner was linked with a move back to Barcelona and also clubs from the Saudi league seemed interested only for the Argentine to join Inter Miami
“My first reaction to Messi coming out was I just couldn’t believe it,” Wright-Phillips told the PA news agency.
“Honestly, even now until I see him run out on an MLS pitch, I can’t really fathom what it’s going to be. It’s hard to even picture that. Even now it doesn’t seem real to me. It’s Messi!
“Unbelievable time. I feel like I retired at the perfect time, just to be involved in what’s going on.
“Messi obviously, Apple taking over and then you’ve got the World Cup coming in ‘26. What more can you ask for?”
Put to Wright-Phillips that the sport in North America seems to be going from strength to strength, he said: “Yeah, it does. The potential and the ceiling is higher than ever.
“If it’s done right, it can be unstoppable – best league and country in the world for football, right? Wouldn’t you say so?”
MLS is certainly on an exciting trajectory and Messi’s arrival will spark unparalleled interest in the competition.
“The league is not only getting the best player in the world,” says Wright-Phillips, who played for LAFC and Columbus Crew as well as the Red Bulls.
“If you just think about the average fan that doesn’t watch MLS, but now because Messi’s here they’re going to watch MLS.
“They now get see a Carles Gil, a Hany Mukhtar, young players like Noel Buck – these are players that we know are good.
“But now you’re watching because you want to see Messi and the average fan gets to see that player or they get to see the atmosphere in St Louis or Austin.
“That’s what’s exciting about it. It’s not just that we’re going to see Messi play, it’s what Messi exposes globally.”
As well as Messi’s macro impact, Miami will be desperate for the Argentina star to improve fortunes at DRV PNK Stadium.
The David Beckham co-owned team languish bottom of the Eastern Conference thanks to a difficult campaign that led to Phil Neville’s recent sacking.
Ex-Barcelona boss Tata Martino has come in, while Messi’s former Nou Camp team-mates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba are expected to join him in Florida.
“That tells me that they don’t just want Messi to come here and lose games,” Wright-Phillips added.
“The Inter Miami team isn’t doing very well this season, they’ve suffered a lot of injuries, they’ve had a change in the manager.
“There’s a lot of things they have to do but if you bring a Busquets, a Jordi Alba, you’re giving yourself, you’re giving Messi a chance to succeed.”
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