Considering the remarkable achievements he has attained throughout his career in the top European leagues, Lionel Messi has consistently been at the top of the goal-scoring and assist charts in the five biggest European leagues over the past 15 seasons. In 14 out of those 15 seasons, he has been in the top five, while in 10 seasons, he has been in the top two, even surpassing everyone else in eight seasons. These accomplishments prove that Messi is an unmatched and phenomenal player.
However, MLS is not on par with the level of difficulty in the top European leagues. Nevertheless, Messi will still be the best player to have ever played in this league. Over the past 15 years, he has continued to score and create more goals than any other player in the best leagues worldwide. Even in his final season with Paris Saint-Germain, Messi showcased exceptional performances by scoring 16 goals and providing 16 assists in Ligue 1. He also won the World Cup.
The question then arises: What will happen when Messi plays in MLS? Looking at the performances of top players who have moved to MLS, there is hope that Messi will experience an increase in production. For instance, Carlos Vela recorded a significant increase in goals and assists after joining MLS. In his first season, Vela scored 34 goals, surpassing the MLS goal-scoring record.
If we convert Messi’s production in his last season with PSG to the same level, we can predict that Messi will have an extraordinary impact in MLS. Based on a simple calculation, if Messi produces goals and assists at the same rate as his last season in PSG, which was 2.24 goals plus assists per 90 minutes, and assuming he plays around 83% of the total minutes in one MLS season, we can expect around 63 goals and assists from Messi. This number far surpasses the MLS goal and assist records in a single season.
However, that is just a conservative estimate. If we use a more sophisticated and precise approach, as done by analyst Tony El Habr, Messi’s production increase in MLS could be even higher. Based on El Habr’s research, players of a similar age and position to Messi who move to MLS from top European leagues tend to experience around a 25% increase in production.
Considering Messi’s exceptional production history, where he often exceeds expected figures, there is reason to believe that Messi’s production increase in MLS could be higher than the conservative estimate mentioned earlier.
In the cases of other players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thierry Henry, who played in MLS at a similar age and position to Messi, they also recorded significant increases in their production. Zlatan managed to score 37 goals and assists in his second season, while Henry recorded a production rate of 0.76 goals plus assists per 90 minutes, more than twice his production rate at Barcelona.
By looking at the history and production increases of other top players who have played in MLS, we can assume that Messi will have an extraordinary impact in this league. With his unmatched ability to score goals and provide assists, Messi has the potential to create new history in MLS. The number of goals and assists he can contribute in a single season could surpass existing records and leave a mark that will be hard to follow for future players.
With Messi’s arrival, Inter Miami will host one of the greatest football players of all time. With his quality and skill, Messi will not only elevate the quality of his team’s play but also inspire a generation of young players in the United States to strive for high achievements in football. Messi’s presence in MLS will be a historic moment and will transform the face of soccer in North America.