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Messi welcomed by thousands to Inter Miami in lavish ceremony

Fans welcome Messi at Inter Miami
Fans welcome Messi at Inter Miami Copyright Marta Lavandier/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Marta Lavandier/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Philip Andrew Churm with AFP
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Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi has been welcomed at Inter Miami by fans who hope he can turn around the club's recent poor performance

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Despite torrential rain, close to 20,000 people packed into Inter Miami's stadium to welcome Lionel Messi to the Florida club.

Its co-founder, David Beckham, led the spectacular ceremony, presenting the Argentine star with the Number 10 jersey.

He said the moment was 'a dream come true.'

For his part Messi said he wanted to help his new team win; something they have not managed to achieve in their last 11 matches.  Inter is currently bottom of the US league. 

Messi could make his debut for the club on Friday against Mexico team Cruz Azul in the new Leagues Cup, which features teams from both MLS and Mexico's Liga MX.

However on Saturday, the team's new Argentinian coach Gerardo Martino urged "patience" after watching his side's winless streak extend to 11 games.

Latin music stars Camilo and Ozuna entertained the crowd at their temporary, DRV PNK Stadium, about an hour's drive north of downtown Miami.

The stadium, on the site of the old home of the now defunct Fort Lauderdale Strikers, was not completely full as the event got under way with fireworks.

Inter are planning their own purpose-built stadium, Freedom Park, in Miami but it is not expected to open until 2025.

Messi's contract is believed to be worth around at least €130m.

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