Exclusive - Former Argentina international and current San Jose Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda has welcomed the possibility of Lionel Messi joining a club in MLS and says it will allow the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to feel ‘normal’ off the pitch again.
Messi, who requested to leave Barcelona over summer and is out of contract next year, recently revealed that he has not made up his mind about whether he will stay or go and won’t do until the end of the season. But living and playing in the United States is something he says interests him.
Almeyda made his name with River Plate in the early 1990s and later played with Sevilla, Lazio, Parma and Inter, as well as representing Argentina at two World Cups. He moved into coaching after retirement and has been in charge of San Jose since 2019.
“I always said that I have the impression that I would like to enjoy the experience of living in the United States, of living in that league and that life,” Messi said in an interview with La Sexta.
Almeyda is completely on board and suggested that the off-field lifestyle in America would better suit Messi, whose superstardom and fame in a smaller environment in Europe will often prevent him from doing certain everyday things with his family and friends.
“Do you know why I think it's a good idea? Because the U.S. is a big country,” Almeyda told 90min. “It has 350m inhabitants, I think. The stars here can walk in peace in the street. Each person who wants a life can enjoy what he likes [and] will live a different life.
“For [Messi], for his children, for his wife, he will be able to walk, to ride a bicycle, he will be able to go to the supermarket. He won't be under that fame that turns you into a slave, you know? That's why I think [USA] could be a good place for him.
“I think that all the players who want to live a normal life, that don't want to get ahead of the line in the supermarket because they are famous, or don't want to go to the bank and get ahead of the line [can play here].
“In that way, you turn to be a normal human again. All the players that want to be normal pick this place.”
Almeyda is witnessing first-hand the improvement in MLS and is confident that the league would be a good choice for Messi from that point of view as well.
“The league is competitive, it's not easy,” he said. “There are Mexican players I brought here and they thought it would be easy, but adapting was difficult. It took a while, a year more or less. Maybe it's underrated, but the league is growing, and the players are picking it because of that reason.”