Messi and Beckham MLS arrivals should not be compared – Stoichkov
Lionel Messi has followed in David Beckham's footsteps by heading to MLS, but Hristo Stoichkov does not like to make comparisons.
Hristo Stoichkov is reluctant to compare Lionel Messi's arrival in MLS with that of David Beckham, as he hailed the Argentine's "spectacular" impending impact.
Messi was officially unveiled as a new Inter Miami player on Sunday, having confirmed his intention to join the MLS side as a free agent in June, following his departure from Paris Saint-Germain.
He will be joined by ex-Barcelona team-mate Sergio Busquets, while Jordi Alba could yet follow the duo to Florida.
Miami are part-owned by Beckham, who himself made the switch from Europe to MLS back in 2003, when he joined LA Galaxy from Real Madrid.
Former Barcelona star Stoichkov, who also spent time in MLS with Chicago Fire and D.C. United, does not believe the two transfers can be compared, however.
He told Stats Perform: "They cannot be compared. I never liked doing it, because those are different times.
"Since 1996, when players began to arrive [in MLS], like Marco Etcheverry, Carlos Valderrama, Lothar Matthaus, later Jorge Campos, Cuauhtemoc Blanco and many Mexicans like Pavel Pardo.
"Then came [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, David Villa and David Beckham.
"But they are all different, I don't like to compare because each one lived their moment.
"It was incredible that despite the rain there were 25 thousand people waiting to see that moment, the arrival of Leo Messi and Sergio Busquets and [it is incredible] that we are going to see them playing in Florida."
Stoichkov is sure Messi will have a huge impact in MLS.
"It's a big thing," he added. "Since I played in MLS, it has always grown and moved forward.
"Don Garber has done an excellent job since 1999 when he became the commissioner of MLS and he continues to give everything to this great league.
"I remember when I was unveiled in 2000, with Matthaus, and it was amazing that we came from Europe and many years later players continue to arrive.
"Before it had been [Johan] Cruyff, [Franz] Beckenbauer, George Best, Pele and from there MLS began to grow."
While Miami are struggling in MLS this season, the city itself has enjoyed a fine year from a sporting perspective, with the Miami Heat making the NBA Finals and the Florida Panthers reaching the Stanley Cup Finals.
"Before, Miami was a tourist city and everyone wanted to come and see it, but that [sporting recognition] is more the case now," Stoichkov continued.
"I believe that with the arrival of Messi, Busquets, Jordi Alba and other important players, this city will be much more recognised around the world.
"This is a path that has been thought through a lot and I am very grateful for the efforts of Beckham and [Miami managing owner] Jorge Mas, who have promoted this project for Inter Miami.
"Many people who have come on vacation will now return to see if they can find Messi in a restaurant, in a supermarket or having a coffee.
"I have known Leo for a long time, since he was 12 or 13 years old and I was at Barcelona, and nothing has changed.
"He continues to be humble, affectionate and has returned that affection to children by taking photos and signing autographs. This adds a lot to MLS and Inter Miami.
"The impact will be spectacular, just by seeing that the tickets for the games where Messi will play are already sold out. This is because a legend has come, someone who has won everything in his sports career.
"Despite all this, the most important thing is his humility."