LIONEL MESSI is set to receive a hero's welcome when he jets off to America as football fans in Florida were seen celebrating his move to Inter Miami.
The 35-year-old confirmed his transfer to David Beckham's MLS club on Wednesday, snubbing a lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia after Barcelona had failed to agree terms.
And the ecstasy was evident on the streets of Miami in the days after the deal was struck as a TikTok video showed Argentina flags all over the streets.
People were leaning out of cars and pumping their fists as they celebrated in the middle of a hectic traffic jam.
Posters of Messi could also be seen in amongst the chaotic scene.
And they chanted: "With great affection, we will wait for you."
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Inter Miami sit bottom of the Eastern Conference having won just five of their 16 games this season.
Last week, they sacked manager Phil Neville following a poor run of results.
Messi was announced just days later, with his ex-Barcelona boss Gerard "Tata" Martinez linked with taking over the American outfit.
But the Barca legend, who leaves Paris Saint-Germain after two years in France, has admitted his preference was always to return to Spain.
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Messi scored 672 goals in 778 games for Barcelona, but the club failed to find a way to afford his return.
After joining Inter Miami, he said: "I really wanted [to return to Barcelona], I was very excited to be able to return, but after having experienced what I experienced and the exit I had, I did not want to be in the same situation again: waiting to see what was going to happen and leaving my future in hand from another.
"I wanted to make my own decision, thinking about myself, about my family. Although I heard that it was said that LaLiga had accepted everything and that everything was fine for him to return, there were still many other things that had to be done.
"I heard that they [Barcelona] had to sell players or lower players' salaries and the truth is that I didn't want to go through that, nor take charge of obtaining something that had to do with all that."
He continued: "I have already been accused of many things that were not true in my career at Barcelona and I was already a bit tired, I didn't want to go through all that.
"And well, the time I had to leave, LaLiga had also accepted that they sign me up and in the end it couldn't be done.
"Well, I was afraid that the same thing would happen again and I had to go through the bullfight as it happened, that I had to come here to Paris to stay in a hotel for a long time with my family, with my children going to school and still being in the hotel…
"I wanted to make my own decision and that's why it was a bit that I didn't turn to Barça. Although I would have loved it, I couldn't.
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'I am also in a moment where I want to get out of focus a bit, think more about my family.
"As I was just saying, I spent two years at a family level that was so bad that I didn't enjoy it. I had the month that was spectacular for me for having won the World Cup, but removing that was a difficult stage for me."
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