Lionel Messi Crowned Time Magazine’s 2023 Athlete of the Year for Record Eighth Ballon d’Or Win

Messi’s Impact on and off the Pitch Propels Soccer’s Popularity in the US

In a remarkable acknowledgment of his unparalleled achievements in 2023, Lionel Messi has been bestowed with Time magazine’s prestigious Athlete of the Year title. The recognition comes on the heels of Messi securing his eighth Ballon d’Or, reaffirming his status as one of the greatest footballers in history. The Argentine maestro’s influence extended beyond the pitch, significantly boosting the sport’s profile in the United States through his move to Inter Miami.

Messi played a pivotal role in guiding Argentina to their first World Cup title in 36 years, a historic feat achieved by defeating defending champions France in a thrilling final last December. Following his departure from Paris St Germain earlier this year, Messi had a plethora of enticing offers. Despite being linked with a return to his former team Barcelona and a lucrative move to Saudi side Al-Hilal, the 36-year-old opted for Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami.

In a statement to Time, Messi expressed gratitude for the array of compelling options he had and highlighted the meticulous consideration, including consultations with his family, that led to his decision to join Miami. The move proved to be a masterstroke as Messi made an instant impact, netting 10 goals in seven Leagues Cup appearances and steering Inter Miami to victory in the prestigious tournament that features MLS and Mexican teams.

Messi’s arrival in the US not only left an indelible mark on the field but also sparked a significant surge of interest off it. The Argentine’s presence led to a spike in searches for match dates and tickets, with fans clamoring to witness his magic in action. The sales of his official pink Inter Miami shirt soared, and the demand for tickets to Inter Miami games reached unprecedented levels. Research firm Antenna reported a notable surge in subscriptions to Apple TV, which holds a decade-long partnership with MLS.

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“Messi managed to do what once seemed impossible: turning the US into a soccer country,” Time magazine noted, underscoring the transformative impact of the football icon.

The accolade places Messi in illustrious company, joining past winners such as Simone Biles, LeBron James, and the United States women’s soccer team. In 2022, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees claimed the honor, but 2023 undoubtedly belongs to Lionel Messi, whose extraordinary contributions have transcended borders and elevated soccer to new heights in the United States.

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