Travis and Jason Kelce in heated debate over Lionel Messi’s spell in MLS

Lionel Messi has been a huge hit in Major League Soccer since joining Inter Miami – but Jason Kelce thinks it’s better to watch the Barcelona legend play for Argentina

Travis and Jason Kelce have clashed over whether it’s as captivating to watch Lionel Messi play for Inter Miami as it was when he dazzled at Barcelona.

Lionel Messi, 36, has an illustrious history with Barcelona, boasting 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League victories, not to mention being the club’s all-time top scorer with 672 goals before his departure in summer 2021.

Messi made the move to Miami last summer. Although no longer universally acknowledged as one of the globe’s premier football talents and approaching the twilight of his career, he continues to draw massive audiences in the US.

On the latest instalment of their New Heights podcast, Kansas City Chiefs star Travis and his brother Jason, who hung up his NFL boots after a stellar 13 years with the Philadelphia Eagles, locked horns over Messi’s stint in Major League Soccer.

“I’ll tell you what though, Messi played in Kansas City this past weekend,” Travis said on the show. “He played in Arrowhead, actually.”

Travis was referring to Miami’s 3-2 victory at Sporting KC, in which Messi assisted Diego Gomez’s goal and scored. Yet Jason replied: “It’s not the same being in the MLS.”

Messi made the journey from Argentina to Barcelona at 13, and became a first-team player four years later. Post Barcelona, he played for Paris Saint-Germain for two years, during which he pocketed two Ligue 1 trophies.

Messi left European soccer to play in the United States

Travis implored his brother not to “s*** on the MLS”. Jason replied: “I’m not sh****** on MLS. I’m saying it’s not international soccer. When you think of soccer, I know there’s all these wonderful clubs overseas, there’s the MLS, I think of the World Cup, that’s all I’m saying. It’s international play and then everything else.

“I didn’t say I won’t watch it (MLS). I’m just saying it wasn’t the same level… Seeing Messi play for Miami is not the same as when he played in Barcelona or when he was at the world stage at the World Cup. That’s all I’m saying – it’s not the same.

“Seeing Michael Jordan on the golf course is not the same as seeing Jordan in a Bulls uniform. You see one person on the biggest stage possible, with the biggest team in history. This is the best soccer player at the World Cup. That’s different than seeing Lionel Messi tearing it up in Kansas City, just saying.”

For many years, Messi struggled to replicate his club form at international level. Argentina lost the World Cup final in 2014, the Copa America final in 2015, and the Copa America final again in 2016. Yet Messi eventually broke his international drought in 2021 at the age of 34 when Argentina won the Copa America. Messi, an eight-time Ballon d’Or winner, then won the World Cup in 2022.

Travis told his brother: “Dude, it’s the same – it’s Lionel Messi,” Travis said. “It was the same as when (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic went f****** crazy in LA (for LA Galaxy). It’s great, it’s electric. He made the MLS fun to watch.”

But Jason hit back. He explained: “I’m not saying it’s not good for MLS, I’m not saying it’s not great, I’m saying it’s not as good. I’m not saying it sucks that he’s playing in Miami, it’s awesome for the MLS, it’s great for American soccer. I’m just saying it’s nowhere near when he scores a goal for Argentina and the entire country is erupting and cheers because it means more to Argentina than any other sport on the planet.”

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