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Lionel Messi to Inter Miami? A new partnership in South Florida could be a clue

The man often called the GOAT of soccer inks a deal with the Hard Rock brand in Florida. Could Inter Miami be far behind?

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RC Celta played at Camp Nou Stadium on May 16, 2021 in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Pressinphoto / Icon Sport

Today the Seminole Hard Rock Casino announced a new marketing partnership with the most famous soccer player in the world, Lionel Messi.

There’s even a commercial spot with Leo and some of the legendary Hard Rock music memorabilia.

You can pick up some of the swag available here, and a lot of it is purple. Maybe La Pulga is a Prince fan?

“OK Collin, your local poker room got a fancy new sponsor. But why does this matter?”

Because the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood is just 15 minutes down I-95 from the home of MLS’s Inter Miami. And not much further from the planned soccer-specific Freedom Park the franchise has proposed. Plus the speculation about Leo eventually plying his trade in South Florida has risen to the level of dull roar.

The Miami Herald on Tuesday was able to get confirmation from Inter Miami that they’ve been in touch with Messi about joining the club.

Mas confirmed that he and co-owner David Beckham have had serious talks with Barcelona star Lionel Messi about joining the team as part of the Argentine playmaker’s 10-year contract negotiation with the Spanish club. Reports from Spain say Messi would play two more years with Barcelona through 2023, then join Inter Miami for two seasons, and return to Barcelona for six years in a still-to-be-determined role as a global ambassador or in the front office.

Messi recently purchased a $7 million condo in Sunny Isles Beach.

“David and I have been working really hard, we have aspirations of bringing the best players here and Leo Messi is a generational player, arguably the best player of all time,” Mas said. “I am optimistic Messi will play in an Inter Miami shirt because I think it will complete the legacy of the greatest player in our generation and will meet with the ambitions of the owners of Inter Miami to build a world class team.”

Doddering Miami Herald columnist and weekly Dan Le Batard Show guest Greg Cote has even taken to print to speculate as to what might happen.

It seems Lionel Messi is going to play for Inter Miami.

Is it real? Will it actually happen?

Rumor and speculation tend to transmogrify into reported news when it comes to soccer and the European and South American press. Is it legit? Or is it the National Enquirer reporting that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was assassinated by a hooker?

If it’s true — Messi to Miami — it would be the most exciting sports news down here since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach in 2010. Messi would arguably be the biggest star in his sport to ever suit up for a South Florida team.

So the best soccer player in the world playing for two more years for the Catalan club he joined as a boy, then off to The 305 to play for David Beckham? Near a home he already owns? It sounds like a dream finish to one of the careers in sporting history. And adding the local betting shop to his long list of sponsors will only enhance the speculation.

The question might only be when, not if, Messi eventually wears the pink flamingo of the best kit in American soccer history.