One goal and two assists in four games was good enough to get Lionel Messi a nomination for Major League Soccer’s highest individual honor.

The 36-year-old was named to the 30-man list of contenders for the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award Thursday despite having relatively little experience in the league after joining Inter Miami midway through the summer.

Messi is joined by fellow newcomer and longtime teammate Sergio Busquets, who has a goal and two assists in eight MLS appearances at Inter Miami.


MLS clubs are responsible for nominating two of their own players, regardless of appearances made this season.

Other nominees include Atlanta United star Thiago Almada, who has 11 goals and 14 assists in 29 games, and last year’s winner, Hany Mukhtar of Nashville SC.

Messi and Busquets were also nominated for the MLS Newcomer of the Year award, given to players who made their debut in 2023.

Voting for the 2023 MLS year-end awards concludes on Oct. 23.

Current MLS players, coaches, technical directors/general managers, and select media members will vote for the winners.

Messi enjoyed a sizzling start to his career in Miami, scoring 10 goals in seven games in the Leagues Cup. But he’s since been slowed down by a muscle injury that’s kept him sidelined for Miami’s last four games.

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