After years of promising fans an elite player with World Cup and Champions League experience, Inter Miami delivered.
The team announced early Thursday morning it had signed dynamic French midfielder Blaise Matuidi, a 2018 World Cup champion, four-time Ligue 1 winner and three-time Serie A winner. The news traveled quickly all over the world, as Matuidi has 5.4 million Instagram followers and is extremely popular in France and Italy.
He becomes the only World Cup winner currently on a Major League Soccer roster.
Matuidi (pronounced Mah-tu-ee-dee) is moving to Miami after leading Italian power Juventus to the 2019-20 Serie A title. Juventus, hit hard financially by the COVID-19 pandemic, was looking to unload a few veteran players and agreed to let the 33-year-old out of his contract a year early. He will be reunited with Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham, who was his teammate with Paris Saint-Germain in 2013.
“I couldn’t be happier to welcome my friend Blaise to Inter Miami. He is an exciting and gifted player and a great person,” said Beckham, who was said to be instrumental in closing the deal. “To have a World Cup winner of Blaise’s quality in our new team is such a proud moment - for us as owners and for our fans. For me personally, to have a former teammate joining our Club is very special and I can’t wait to welcome him and his beautiful family to South Florida.”
Matuidi will occupy an international roster slot and join the team in South Florida pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P-1 Visa. He likely will not be available for Miami’s Aug. 22 home stadium debut against Orlando City, the team’s first match in the resumption of the regular-season, which was interrupted in mid-March due to the pandemic.
But the team hopes to have him by the first week of September, after he complies with Major League Soccer’s COVID-testing and other health protocols. Matuidi was among three Juventus players who tested positive for the virus in March. He was asymptomatic and returned to the team in mid-April.
“Blaise is one of the most successful midfielders of his generation and we’re thrilled to have him at Inter Miami,” said Paul McDonough, Inter Miami’s COO and sporting director. “His world-class quality and leadership will be key attributes for the Club.”
Matuidi said he is “happy and honored” to join the team.
“I hope we win together a lot of trophies,” Matuidi said on a video released on Twitter. “It is a big challenge for me and I am excited to see my new teammates and the fans. I hope to do my best and work hard.”
Let’s get this started, South Florida! pic.twitter.com/4tdMxa4NXs— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) August 13, 2020
Terms of the contract were not revealed, but surprisingly, he will not be one of the team’s three allowed “Designated Players” – high-paid players whose salary exceeds the team cap. Instead, Miami was able to get Matuidi using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), which are funds strategically provided by the league to teams to add players who will make an immediate impact.
ESPN reported that he will take a pay cut from the $170,000 a week he was reportedly making with Juventus. By using TAM money, Inter Miami leaves open one final Designated Player spot, which it was planning to use for a top-notch forward.
Matuidi will wear the No. 8 shirt and immediately infuse Miami’s roster with international experience and leadership. He is known for his ball-winning skills, persistence, work rate and defense. Inter Miami is winless through its first five matches, and one area of weakness has been losing balls in the midfield, which has led to counterattacks.
In addition to playing in two World Cups and starting for champion France in 2018, he also has won three Coupe de Frances, a Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana. The midfielder was also named the 2015 French Player of the Year and selected to the Ligue 1 Team of the Year twice.
On the international stage, Matuidi has represented France from the youth teams through the senior national team. Since his 2010 senior team debut, he has made 84 senior appearances for Les Bleus, registering nine goals and 10 assists. The Toulouse-born midfielder appeared at the 2016 European championships, as well as at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.
He started four of the team’s seven matches en route to the 2018 title, including the final against Croatia.
The left-footed midfielder played three seasons for Juventus after the Italian club paid a $27 million transfer fee to get him from PSG, where he spent the previous seven years.
Matuidi helped Juventus win the Serie A title in all three of his seasons with the club along with the two cup titles. He made 33 appearances, scored eight goals and had seven assists. He also made 23 appearances and registered two goals and one assist for Juventus in the Champions League.
He had previously helped led PSG to four consecutive Ligue 1 titles from 2012-16 and 12 total cup titles. He played 295 games, had 33 goals and 28 assists. He also made 45 Champions League appearances for the French club, scored six goals and had nine assists.
From 2007-11, Matuidi played for French team Saint-Étienne. He spent the first three years of his career with Troyes. He was born in France to an Angolan father and Congolese mother. He is married to his childhood sweetheart Isabelle, and they have three children, Myliane, Naelle and Eden.