Lionel Messi told to 'learn English like David Beckham did for us' ahead of MLS move as Fox presenter Brian Kilmeade defends comment after furious backlash

Beckham Messi collageGetty/GOAL
  • Messi on his way to Miami
  • Language barrier issue raised
  • Comparisons to Beckham's English drawn

WHAT HAPPENED? The mercurial Argentine forward sealed a move to Major League soccer on Wednesday in a dramatic transfer U-turn from rumours linking him with former club Barcelona and, more prominently, Saudi Arabia. Excitement at Messi's arrival has been seen across all corners of the states - not least in Miami's upturn in Instagram followers - as his inclusion into MLS is widely considered to be a seminal moment in American soccer.

WHAT THEY SAID: However, Fox's Kilmeade sought to raise issue with the player's potential language barrier, using a bizarre comparison to Englishman David Beckham. He said live on air: "The only thing I worry about, he [Messi] doesn't speak English, and I want to see him sit down and talk. One thing about David Beckham, he learned to speak English for us, with an accent, when he came at 32 years old."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Messi's move Stateside has been likened to Beckham's transfer to LA Galaxy back in 2007, which helped put the U.S. on the map in terms of its domestic league. However, given that the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder was born in London and went on to record 115 caps for England, the comparison has drawn a backlash and particularly within the media. Kilmeade has since responded to the comments, claiming in a Tweet that he was only joking: "This is hilarious - once again people have no idea when I am kidding around".

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David Beckham LA GalaxyGetty ImagesLionel Messi Inter MiamiGetty/GOALLionel Messi David Beckham PSG 2:1 HICGetty

WHAT NEXT FOR MESSI? The World Cup winner will see out the remainder of his contract at Paris Saint-Germain before completing his switch to Miami, with his debut date reportedly scheduled for June 21 in a Leagues Cup opener at home to Cruz Azul.