Argentina legend Lionel Messi will join American side Inter Miami after his exit from French champions Paris St-Germain.
Messi, 35, had a more lucrative offer from Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal while a return to Barcelona became an impossibility because of Financial Fair Play (FFP) limitations.
“I’ve taken the decision that I am going to Miami,” Messi told newspapers Diario Sport and Mundo Deportivo.
“[I decided] to leave Europe.”
He added: “It’s true that I had offers from another European team but I didn’t even think about it because in Europe, my idea was only to go to Barcelona.
“After winning the World Cup and not being able to go to Barca, it’s time to go to MLS to live football in a different way and enjoy my day to day life more.
“Obviously with the same responsibility and desire to win, and to do things well, but with more calm.”
The ex-Barcelona forward was keen on a return to the Catalan club this summer but the FFP limitations that will be in place for next season in La Liga made any ambitious plan to bring him back an impossibility.
The Spanish club were unable to keep Messi in 2021, leading to a tearful news conference as he left the Nou Camp and signed for PSG.
“I was afraid that it would happen again,” he said.
“I really wanted, I was very excited to be able to return [to Barcelona], 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.
“I heard that they 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.”
Barcelona later released a statement saying Messi had chosen a Miami move over an offer from the Catalan club.
“President [Joan] Laporta understood and respected Messi’s decision to want to compete in a league with fewer demands, further away from the spotlight and the pressure he has been subject to in recent years,” it added.
The Miami deal includes collaboration from brands like Adidas and Apple.
Messi won the Ballon d’Or award for the world’s best player seven times and is expected to win it later this year after World Cup success.
This is the first time Barcelona icon Messi has played outside Europe. (BBC)