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Yalla Shoot :Lionel Messi ‘Won’t Find it Easy’ in MLS After Joining Inter Miami, Wayne Rooney Says | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 15: Coach Wayne Rooney of D.C. United before a game between D.C. United and New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on July 15, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images).

Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images

D.C. United manager Wayne Rooney believes Lionel Messi “won’t find it easy” to transition to Major League Soccer.

After two years in the French Ligue 1 with Paris St Germain, Messi will sign with Inter Miami, the team announced Saturday.

“He won’t find it easy here,” Rooney told The Sunday Times’ Jonathan Northcroft (h/t ESPN.) “It sounds mad, but players who come in find it’s a tough league. The traveling, the different conditions in different cities, and there’s a lot of energy and intensity on the pitch.”

Messi is signed through the end of the 2025 season at a reported annual average value of between $50 and $60 million, per the Sports Business Journals’ Alex Silverman.

Before beginning his managerial career in 2020, Rooney made a similar journey to the United States in the final years of his playing career.

After playing in the Premier League from 2002 to 2018, where he won five titles with Manchester United, Rooney moved to the MLS to compete for D.C. United in 2018.

Rooney had a successful two seasons with D.C. After contributing to two goals in his MLS debut, he went on to record 23 goals and 15 assists in 48 games. He was also at times outwardly critical of the MLS, especially regarding team travel.

Wayne Rooney @WayneRooney

Gutted about result last night. We deserved more. Looking forward to a 12 hour travel day which could be done in 6 but hey this is mls. We will get ready for red bulls Wednesday. <a href=” <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/msl?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#msl</a>

At the time, charter flights were limited per team, and the majority of MLS squads flew commercial to road games.

The number of league charter flights increased in 2020 under the league’s new CBA. Even with these improvements, the distance involved in MLS travel is significantly more than its European counterparts, including Ligue 1.

buckofalltrades @buckofalltrades

MLS teams travel more than their counterparts in other leagues, but exactly how much more? This comes up every now and again (hey there <a href=” but I’ve never seen a direct comparison before, so I put a couple of things together. Spoiler alert: it is indeed a lot more. <a href=”https://t.co/gXN4MHlxdF”>pic.twitter.com/gXN4MHlxdF</a>

Rooney also cited the “energy and intensity on the pitch” as something to consider when adjusting to the MLS. In 2017, the MLS beat out Ligue 1’s average attendance for the first time, and crowd sizes have only increased since.

Joining the MLS was not the ideal outcome for Messi, who indicated to Spanish news outlets that he would have preferred to play for Barcelona had it not been for the club’s financial troubles, according to the New York Times. For the MLS, however, it will be an enormous boost similar to David Beckham leaving Real Madrid for the LA Galaxy in 2007.

Given that Inter Miami tickets almost immediately sold out following the news of his acquisition, the MLS will hope Messi’s adjustment goes as smoothly as possible.

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