Atletico Madrid attacker Antoine Griezmann has waxed lyrical about former Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi's impact on Major League Soccer and Inter Miami.
Lionel Messi, 36, joined Inter Miami on a free transfer this summer after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain ended on June 30. The Argentinian icon has hit the ground running in the United States, bagging nine goals and one assist in six games (all in the Leagues Cup).
Inter Miami, who were on a six-game winless run ahead of Messi's arrival, have won each of their six matches with him, making their way into the Leagues Cup final. The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner's presence has also provided the Herons a major commercial boost.
According to ESPN, the average ticket price of Inter Miami games has risen from $31 to $252 since the former Barcelona superstar's arrival. The attendance at the Herons' DRV PNK Stadium in their last game before Messi's signing was a lowly 14072. Meanwhile, they have had an average attendance of 20102 at home since his arrival.
Griezmann has now said that Messi's impact on Inter Miami and US football is evident. The former Barcelona attacker added that roping in the 2022 FIFA World Cup winner is the best thing MLS has done for the growth of the league.
"Yes, I’m following (Lionel Messi)," Griezmann told a press conference (h/t SBI Soccer). "Leo is the best in history. He’s filling stadiums, he’s scoring a lot of goals and he’s winning games. He’s incredible and I think it’s the best thing MLS have done to bring in Leo, in terms of marketing and in terms of football."
Griezmann shared the dressing room with Messi during the latter's last two years at Barcelona. The pair played 85 games together across competitions, combining to score 12 times.
How did former Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi fare in his last game for Inter Miami?
Lionel Messi made his last appearance for Inter Miami in their Leagues Cup semifinal against Philadelphia Union on Tuesday (August 15). He played the full 90 minutes for the Herons, helping them beat the Zolos 4-1 and progress into the final. He scored the team's second goal of the game with a spectacular long-range effort.
The Argentinian icon found the back of the net with his only shot of the game. He registered 44 touches of the ball but was not even dispossessed once. The former Barcelona and PSG talisman also won one free-kick for his team.
Lionel Messi completed 32 passes, including five long balls and as many passes into the final third, with 89% accuracy. He helped out in defense as well, making one tackle and one recovery. He will be determined to lead the MLS club to glory when they face Nashville SC in the Leagues Cup final on Saturday (August 19).