Lionel Messi Named TIME's 2023 Athlete of the Year amid Success in USA, MLS
Tuesday, 05 December, 2023, 20:36
Messi mania came to the United States in 2023, and Time Magazine recognized its impact. Time named Lionel Messi its 2023 Athlete of the Year on Tuesday. After the soccer superstar led Argentina to a World Cup title in 2022 and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players in the sport's history, he joined the MLS' Inter Miami CF this year and captivated a new country of soccer fans with his dazzling style of play. This is just the latest recognition for the 36-year-old, who also took home his eighth Ballon d'Or this year. The coveted award is annually presented to the world's top player. Where Messi would end up after he finished the 2022-23 club season with Paris St.-Germain was one of the biggest sports stories of the year across the world. While he is no longer a young player, he still finished with 21 goals and 20 assists across all competitions for PSG and proved he can compete with the world's best. As Time's writeup explained, the decision largely came down to a return to Barcelona, a spot in the Saudi Arabia league that signed Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, among other stars, or with Inter Miami in the MLS. "The truth is that fortunately, I had several options on the table that were interesting, and I had to analyze them and think, even weigh them up with my family, before making the final decision to come to Miami," Messi said. He wasn't the first international superstar to join the league, as others such as David Beckham, Thierry Henry, David Villa, Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Gareth Bale had done the same in the past. But he was the most notable one, and he did so just months after shining on the sport's biggest stage as a World Cup champion.