As the big unveiling draws ever closer with each passing day, the city of Miami is preparing to usher in the era of Lionel Messi.
After deciding to part ways with Paris Saint-Germain at the end of last season, the World Cup-winning icon is set to be unveiled by new club Inter Miami CF on Sunday before embarking on a new challenge in MLS.
Messi touched down in South Miami for the first time Tuesday after he flew into Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport with his wife, Antonella, and their three children.
Word had obviously gotten out that one of the greatest, most esteemed footballers of all time was about to touch down in Florida as fans began congregating outside the airport several hours before his arrival.
Supporters also flocked to Inter Miami's DRV PNK Stadium in an attempt to catch a glimpse of their idol. Some fans dressed in both Inter Miami and Argentina replica shirts with Messi's name and number on the back, while others even brought along life-sized cardboard cutouts of the 36-year-old forward.
Messi fans are already flocking to the stadium to see the No. 10 🇦🇷🌴 pic.twitter.com/iLhrKKCHwc— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 11, 2023
Elsewhere, large groups of excited fans gathered on the streets of Wynwood, a Miami neighbourhood famed for its vivid displays of street art. Sure enough, the group began clapping and chanting for Messi in front of a large painting of the former Barcelona star.
En Wynwood, Miami, ya suena "MUCHACHOS" con Leo Messi de fondo...— SportsCenter (@SC_ESPN) July 12, 2023
Also in Wynwood, Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham was all smiles earlier this week as he helped apply the finishing touches to an enormous new mural of Messi that has been daubed on the wall of a building by Argentine artist Maximiliano Bagnasco.
It would seem that Messi fever is beginning to mount ahead of the marquee superstar's grand introduction, with Inter Miami announcing that the club would be staging a "major unveiling event" Sunday -- which is likely to see both Messi and former Barca teammate Sergio Busquets formally presented to the public.
Messi and Busquets will then train under new Inter Miami coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino, who took his first session Monday and has previously worked with both players at Barca as well as managing fellow countryman Messi at international level.
Quite the reunion!