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Canada coach says Messi landing in Major League Soccer would be an ‘absolute coup’


Canada coach John Herdman says signing Lionel Messi would be an “absolute coup” for Major League Soccer.

The Argentine star has been linked to Inter Miami CF with reports Wednesday suggesting it’s a done deal.

“Well If he was a bit younger, I would have hoped he came to a Canadian club. We’d keep him for five years and get his (Canadian) passport,” Herdman said with a smile. “That would have been awesome.”

“But I think MLS is just growing and growing and growing,” he added. “Every year you see new teams, better facilities, a better standard of play, a more competitive style of play. We’ve seen the Italians (Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi) arrive at Toronto. You’ve seen Messi now, hopefully, coming into a club that he’ll transform — the fan base, he’ll transform the interest. I think it’s an absolute coup for MLS.”

The challenge for the league, he suggested, is to provide an atmosphere that will test and motivate such a star to “Bring his best version.”

“But we’ve seen that from (David) Beckham (with the Los Angeles Galaxy). We’ve seen it from some real top players that have come across here and truly contributed to the league,” Herdman said in a virtual media availability Wednesday. “So that’s the hope, that’s the dream I think for all of us, that he comes and lights up the league like some of the Zlatans (Zlatan Ibrahimovic who played for the Galaxy) have done in their first season.”

Added Herdman: “Congrats to MLS if they make that happen. Stadiums are going to sell out … I think people will be buying season tickets now just to see Messi. What an opportunity for this part of the world.”

Messi, who spent the last two years with Paris Saint-Germain, has also been also linked to a return to Barcelona and a big-money offer from Saudi Arabia to play there.

The Argentine star, who turns 36 later this month, has won the Ballon d’Or award as the world’s best player a record seven times.

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