Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi has been dazzling international football fans for nearly 20 years. It became obvious early on in Messi’s career with FC Barcelona that he was a special talent. Paired with Ronaldo, Messi has firmly sat atop the football mountaintop as one of the greatest to ever play the game. At 36 years old Messi proved that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank, winning the 2023 Ballon d’Or while also revolutionizing an entire sports industry in the United States. It might not be the best year of Messi’s career in terms of talent but 2023 was certainly the most influential year of his career.
- son Reed
FanSided Editor

Best fan moment of the year

Lionel Messi accomplished the biggest feat of his career late in 2022 when he led Argentina to win the World Cup. From a fan perspective, Messi’s most exciting moment of 2023 came in his Inter Miami debut. After months of speculation and weeks of excitement, Messi showed American soccer fans why he is one of the greatest of all time with a game-winning free kick in stoppage time during his Inter Miami debut.

How this fandom is changing sports

Lionel Messi taking his talents to the United States and playing in the MLS is an unprecedented move for American soccer. Not only is this the biggest international transfer since David Beckham joined the LA Galaxy, but it completely veered away from how traditional sports leagues do business. It took a team effort to convince Messi to turn down a reported $400-600 million per year contract from Saudi Arabia. Messi received an ownership stake in Inter Miami, as well as a revenue cut from both Adidas and Apple for his contributions.