This summer, Barcelona captain and midfielder Sergio Busquets will join Lionel Messi on Inter Miami CF as a free agent, after spending almost two decades with Barca. Inter Miami announced Busquets’ upcoming move on Twitter last Friday. He is expected to arrive in Miami in July, after his contract with Barcelona ends.
After announcing that this year would be his last season with Barcelona, Busquets received offers from Saudi Arabian clubs Al Nassr and Al Hilal, in addition to Inter Miami. Busquets’ decision to sign with Miami, despite higher-paying contracts from the Saudi Arabian teams, he said, stems from his desire to play in America, not unlike Messi’s recent decision to join Major League Soccer.
Busquets spent 18 years with Barcelona, having joined in 2005 and made his debut on the first team in 2008. Since then, he has brought home three Champions League titles and nine league titles. His impressive career with Barcelona included 722 appearances and 18 goals, and, in 2022, Busquets etched his name into the record books with the third-highest number of appearances with the team. The Barcelona veteran spent ample time on the national team as well, taking home the victory in the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championship.
Busquets’ time in FC Barcelona overlapped with Messi’s, and the two played together for 13 seasons until Messi left for Paris-Saint Germain in 2021.
The news of Busquets’ move to MLS comes after Messi announced June 7 that he will be playing for Miami after the end of his contract with PSG. The former teammates will reunite in Miami this summer, with Messi’s first appearance scheduled for July 21.
After nabbing Messi and Busquets, Inter Miami is also looking to sign Barcelona left-back and Spanish national team captain Jordi Alba, who announced in May that he would be leaving Barca following the end of this season. Alba made 459 appearances with the team, scoring 27 goals during that time. His honors include six league titles and one Champions League title with Barcelona. He ended his contract with Barcelona a year ahead of its original 2024 expiry date.
Inter Miami faces competition from Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan as well as Saudi Clubs, who also made offers to both Busquets and Messi, in signing Alba. Fresh off Spain’s victory against Croatia in the UEFA Nations League Final on June 18, Alba is expected to decide where he’s headed next sometime this summer.
Inter Miami’s move to add another former Barcelona player to its roster might be reflective of a strategy to build a team around Messi in order to improve its standings. Currently, Inter Miami CF is ranked last in the Eastern Conference of MLS — last season, Miami landed in sixth. The nine-rank drop led to the dismissal of head coach Phil Neville earlier this month.
Inter Miami hired Gerardo Martino, a coach familiar with Messi, as Neville’s replacement. Martino coached Messi in Barcelona and on Argentina’s national team from 2013 to 2016. Afterwards, Martino came to MLS and led Atlanta United to an MLS Cup win in 2018. Martino’s familiarity with both Messi and MLS should provide a promising base for Inter Miami going forward.
Messi’s history with both Martino and Busquets sheds light on Inter Miami’s potential plan of building a team around Messi through a star-studded recruit roster. Messi, fresh off his 2022 FIFA World Cup victory for Argentina in December, is anticipated to help bolster Miami’s league standings. And for Busquets, who has been heralded by the Croatian national team captain Luka Modric on Twitter as one of the best midfielders he’s ever played against, playing for Miami could make waves for a team that needs a boost. The infusion of talent from Busquets, Messi and potentially Alba, gives hope to Miami fans for the upcoming season.