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."

Lionel Messi has been introduced to Inter Miami’s fans during a special event hosted at the MLS club’s DRV Pink Stadium.

During the ceremony, which was dubbed The Unveil and broadcast live, the 36-year-old Argentina superstar greeted Inter Miami owner David Beckham with a hug before receiving his pink No 10 jersey.

Messi told the crowd: “I want to thank all the people of Miami for their welcome and love since I arrived in this city.

“The truth is that I’m very excited and very happy to be here in Miami and to be with you.

“I can’t wait to start training and competing. I’m here with the desire I’ve always had to compete, to want to win, and to help the club continue to grow.”

The stadium was practically full, despite the event being delayed by poor weather.

Beckham said during the broadcast that it made for a “typical Miami welcome for one of the greatest players to ever have played the game”.

He added: “The fact that we have our fans in here, celebrating this moment… this is what we have created and we’re very proud of that.”

Joining Messi onstage was former Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets, whose arrival at Inter Miami was officially announced earlier on Sunday.

Busquets, 35, who had spent his entire playing career at the Nou Camp, left Barca at the end of the season and will be reunited with former team-mate Messi, whose own move to Miami was confirmed 24 hours earlier.

Speaking during The Unveil event, Inter Miami’s primary owner Jorge Mas called Messi “the best player to ever don boots”.

He said: “When David and I first met and we dreamt of what Inter Miami represents, it started off with the freedom to dream.

“And we dreamed of not only bringing elite players and the best players but the best player to ever don boots — and his name is Lionel Andres Messi.”

Messi revealed last month he had decided to join the Florida side as his contract with Paris St Germain came to an end.

With the deal now officially done, Messi is in line to make his debut for his new employers on Friday against Mexico’s Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup.

Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi arrives after a season in which he helped his country to World Cup glory in Qatar, as well as PSG to the Ligue 1 title, as in his first campaign with them in 2021-22.

That adds to an already huge trophy haul on his CV that features four Champions League successes from his years with Barcelona, for whom he scored a staggering total of 672 goals.

Joining Miami sees Messi – who has also netted more than 100 international goals – reunite with boss Gerardo Martino, who he previously worked under with Barca and Argentina.

Martino was appointed in June after the club sacked Beckham’s ex-Manchester United team-mate Phil Neville.

Inter Miami have signed midfielder Sergio Busquets following his departure from Barcelona.

Busquets, 35, who had spent his entire playing career at the Nou Camp, left Barca at the end of the season and will be reunited with former team-mate Lionel Messi, whose move to Miami was confirmed 24 hours earlier.

Miami said in a statement: “Inter Miami CF announced (on Sunday) that it has signed legendary Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets to a contract running through the 2025 Major League Soccer (MLS) season.

“The one-time World Cup champion, nine-time LaLiga winner and former FC Barcelona captain, considered to be one of the greatest midfielders of all time, will occupy a Designated Player slot and is expected to join the team in the coming days.”

Busquets was a member of Spain’s team which won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championships in 2012 and over 15 seasons with Barca made 721 appearances in all competitions, placing him third on the club’s all-time list.

He said: “This is a special and exciting opportunity that I’m very excited to take. I’m looking forward to this next step in my career with Inter Miami.

“I was impressed by the club when I came with Barcelona last year and now I’m happy and ready to represent the club myself. I can’t wait to help bring the success that this ambitious club strives for.”

Former Barcelona and Argentina manager Gerardo Martino has been appointed as the new head coach of Inter Miami.

The 60-year-old Argentinian arrives at the Major League Soccer outfit co-owned by David Beckham after they sacked the latter’s ex-Manchester United team-mate Phil Neville earlier this month.

It will reunite Martino with his compatriot Lionel Messi, with the World Cup winner to join the Florida side after leaving Paris St Germain at the end of his contract.

Martino, who coached Messi with Barcelona and Argentina, said in a club statement: “I’m very excited to join a big club like Inter Miami and I know together we can accomplish many great things.

“The club has the necessary infrastructure to be a major competitor in the region and I believe that with everyone’s hard work and commitment we can get there.”

Beckham said: “’Tata’ is a highly respected figure in our sport whose track record speaks for itself.

“We are confident that his achievements in the game and experience as a head coach will inspire our team and excite our fans and look forward to seeing the impact he will have on and off the field.”

Martino has been a Copa America runner-up twice with Argentina and once with Paraguay, and also overseen Mexico winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Lionel Messi chose to join Inter Miami in part due to the desire for a quieter life.

That is the view of former Manchester City and Brazil midfielder Elano, who believes Messi made a "personal" not "professional" choice by electing to move to MLS.

Messi confirmed last week that he had decided to leave Europe for the United States, where he will join Miami, who are co-owned by David Beckham.

He is departing Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent after two years in the French capital. Barcelona wanted to re-sign the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner, but Messi did not wish to wait for his former club to put together a package that might have resulted in other players having to be sold.

Asked by Stats Perform what he thought of Messi's impending MLS switch, Elano said: "Well, I'm not Messi's friend, I don't know him. It's an assumption from a distance.

"It seems more like a family matter to me. The guy wants to play football but wants to have a quieter life. To be closer to his kids.

"I'm not saying he doesn't want to be under pressure, because he is Messi and he will never stop being under pressure wherever he is. Because he will always be Messi, one of the greatest players of all time.

"I think it's a personal choice, a family choice, to go to a wonderful place and be able to live there with your family. To have a life project. I don't condemn it.

"He has always done well for football where he has been and it will be no different in the United States. He will do well for his club and for the league. I think it was a more personal choice than a professional one."

Messi is joining a Miami team that are sat bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Herons parted company with Phil Neville earlier in June.

Count D.C. United head coach Wayne Rooney among the many who are excited about Lionel Messi coming to Major League Soccer.

After Messi announced on Wednesday that he would be joining Inter Miami CF after his exit from Paris Saint-Germain, Rooney said the move is a major win for MLS.

"I think it's great, to bring Messi into the league," Rooney said on Thursday. "We've all seen, over the years, the impact of (Inter Miami co-owner) David Beckham coming in, (former Los Angeles Galaxy striker) Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) coming in.

"Different players from overseas. To get Messi in the league, arguably the greatest player of all time, and still – he’s a little bit older – but not long ago he won the World Cup almost single handed.

"It's going to be great for the league, for Miami."

Messi, 35, is expected to make his MLS debut sometime in July, and D.C. hosts Inter Miami on July 8.

"It'd be nice if we were his first opponents for D.C. fans to see him up close and for us to challenge ourselves against him," Rooney said.

"One thing I will say – it’s not going to be easy for him. The league's a difficult league and I don't think he's going to come over here and absolutely tear it up immediately.

"He'll have to adapt because it's a bit different, it won't be an easy ride for him."

Messi dragged Argentina to their first World Cup success since 1986 in Qatar last year, and the Barcelona great has won the Ballon d'Or trophy a record seven times.

"He's the best. Simple as that," Rooney said. "In my view he's the best player to ever play the game. That's how he's different.

"The fanbase around him will be huge, commercially, for the league I'm sure it'll be huge as well. It's massive for MLS. With Messi coming here – I know MLS has always brought players in – but I think it'll do that again, and it shows MLS can compete.

"It shows it’s a league where people want to come and want to play and it's a huge first step."

Lionel Messi's impending transfer to Inter Miami will be a great tool to help MLS grow, says Michael Dawson.

Messi confirmed on Wednesday that he will join Miami after leaving Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent.

Barcelona wanted to re-sign the 35-year-old, but could not make the finances work, with Messi claiming he did not want a potential return to his old club to result in other players having to cut their salaries or be sold.

Now, a new venture in the United Stats awaits, and former Tottenham defender Dawson thinks it will be a huge positive for the growth of the sport in the United States.

Speaking to Stats Perform at an exclusive launch event for Club and Nike Members held at Alexandra Palace, Dawson said: "I always look back to the MLS when David Beckham went [in 2007 to LA Galaxy] and I always believe he was the start of the MLS improving and growing.

"You look at Cristiano Ronaldo going to Saudi [Arabia] and playing over there, it gives people a different interest.

"Messi [and Ronaldo], they are icons of football, the best players of my generation. So if you attract that to your country, to your league, it's only going to bring people watching it.

"I say the Premier League is the best league in the world. I've never played in a different country. Maybe that's something I would have maybe liked if the opportunity to come along.

"But with these kinds of players going over there, it will always attract interest from the supporters because as a fan, you follow Messi, you follow Ronaldo, and that's why the owners of these football clubs spend all the money to go and get them because they try and enhance their brand, their football team and their league."

Lionel Messi is reportedly set to join Major League Soccer side Inter Miami with Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal understood to be out of the race.

The 35-year-old Argentina star had been strongly linked with a move to Saudi Arabia, a league which already features Cristiano Ronaldo and now Karim Benzema, with Messi’s two-year contract at Paris St Germain coming to an end this month.

However, the PA news agency understands a move to the Middle East is now no longer on the cards, placing Inter Miami in pole position for Messi.

The Major League Soccer side are co-owned by former England captain David Beckham and were founded in 2018, playing their first season two years later.

Miami recently sacked Beckham’s former Manchester United and England team-mate Phil Neville as coach and are currently bottom of the 15-team Eastern Conference, but they remain a fiercely ambitious club.

The PA news agency understands the Florida side have pulled out all the stops to sign Messi, tying up with various MLS partners like Apple.

A deal in principle has now reportedly been agreed that will see Messi head to the United States after PSG confirmed last week he would be leaving.

Mikael Uhre netted a hat-trick as Philadelphia Union snapped their five-game MLS winless run with a 4-2 victory over Toronto on Saturday.

Union took an early lead after Lukas MacNaughton's 16th-minute own goal before Denmark international Uhre bagged a double before half-time.

Uhre added a third in the 56th minute to round out his hat-trick, tapping in Julian Carranza's low ball across goal and put the contest to bed.

Toronto pulled one back through Italy international Lorenzo Insigne in the 66th minute, before Richie Laryea's stoppage-time consolation.

New England reinforced their grip on top spot in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 home win over Sporting KC, who are last overall.

Giacomo Vrioni netted a first-half brace for the Revs, but Sporting pulled one back in the 50th minute from Johnny Russell, only to be reduced to 10 men when Andreu Fontas was sent off 10 minutes later.

The Revs are ahead of second-placed Cincinnati on goal difference, with Cincy winning 2-1 over Portland Timbers after strikes from Sergio Santos and Brandon Vasquez.

New York City moved up to fourth in the East with a 3-1 home win over Dallas sparked by Santiago Rodriguez's double.

Western Conference leaders St Louis City were denied victory after Michael Barrios' 90th-minute equaliser as they drew 1-1 at Colorado Rapids.

St Louis remain top in the West but only on goal difference from Seattle Sounders who condemned Minnesota United to three straight losses with a 1-0 victory.

Denis Bouanga netted his seventh goal of the MLS season as LAFC drew 1-1 at Nashville, while LA Galaxy snapped their winless start to the campaign with a 2-0 home victory over Austin.

Inter Miami's losing run extended to six in a row, compounding the pressure on boss Phil Neville, as they went down 1-0 at Houston Dynamo.

Real Salt Lake beat San Jose Earthquakes 3-1, Charlotte defeated Columbus Crew 1-0, struggling Montreal edged New York Red Bulls 2-0 and Christian Benteke scored as DC United won 3-1 at Orlando City.

Harry Kane's future at Tottenham is uncertain, with his contract due to expire in 2024.

As a result, speculation is developing about a move for the England international striker during the next transfer window.

Manchester United are known to be interested in the 29-year-old, while Bayern Munich were previously linked too.

TOP STORY – PSG TO CONTEND WITH UTD FOR KANE SIGNATURE

Paris Saint-Germain will battle it out with Manchester United to land Tottenham forward Harry Kane, reports Le Parisien.

PSG sporting director Luis Campos wants to bolster the side's attack and has identified Kane as their top target.

The French champions' president Nasser Al Khelaifi has a good relationship with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, which may help negotiations.

ROUND-UP

- Lionel Messi has decided to remain in Europe for another two seasons, amid speculation about a move to Saudi Arabia or MLS, namely Inter Miami, claims SPORT. Messi has been linked with former club Barcelona, having yet to re-sign with Paris Saint-Germain.

- Fichajes reports Barcelona are circling to make a move for Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold in the upcoming transfer window. Barca are hoping to sign him on a reduced fee, with the Reds to miss out on Champions League football next term.

- Liverpool will commence talks with Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Alexis Mac Allister's camp soon, according to Fabrizio Romano, who said an off-season exit is a certainty.

- Newcastle United, West Ham United and Tottenham are all circling for James Ward-Prowse who has been told he can leave Southampton if they get relegated, claims Daily Mail.

- Inter have turned their attention to signing Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram or Liverpool's Roberto Firmino, rather than making Romelu Lukaku's loan spell from Chelsea permanent, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Borussia Dortmund have agreed personal terms with Borussia Monchengladbach defender Ramy Bensebaini to join as a free agent in the off-season.

Liverpool are set for a busy off-season with suggestions that Jurgen Klopp and the club's management want a squad overhaul.

Among the key areas to address is their midfield options, leading to links to numerous players.

It was reported last week Liverpool have pulled out of the race for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham.

TOP STORY – REDS TO RAMP UP MOUNT INTEREST

Liverpool will ramp up their efforts to sign Mason Mount, amid a lack of a breakthrough in negotiations between the midfielder and Chelsea, reports The Guardian.

The Reds have now moved on from Bellingham given Dortmund's asking price, with Mount in their sights given he is out of contract at the end of this season.

Mount has offered no signs that he will extend his Chelsea deal, with Liverpool eager to capitalise and lure the 24-year-old England international to Anfield.

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea could look to join the race alongside Real Madrid for Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez, according to Fichajes. Alvarez is reportedly unhappy with his lack of game-time on the pitch at City.

- Manchester City are interested in an off-season move for Bayern Munich's Alphonso Davies along with Real Madrid, reports Sky Sports Germany's Florian Plettenberg. Davies' contract runs until 2024 and he has held talks with Bayern on a new deal.

- Man City are also willing to let defender Aymeric Laporte exit in the off-season if he pushes for a move, claims the Daily Mail. Laporte, who is contracted until 2025, has fallen out of favour at City.

- 90min reports Arsenal are tracking Borussia Monchengladbach's Florian Neuhaus, who is contracted until 2024.

- Sport Witness claims Inter's Joaquin Correa has interest from Premier League trio Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham.

- Ex-Tottenham boss Antonio Conte will take over at Roma next season, with Jose Mourinho tipped to move to Paris Saint-Germain, per Calciomercato.

Real Madrid are eager to rejuvenate their squad for coming seasons with investment set to come in the off season.

Los Blancos are set to finish second in the LaLiga title race to Barcelona who hold an 11-point lead with nine games to play.

The depth of the reigning European champions, who are in this season's quarter-finals, has been tested at times this term.

TOP STORY – MADRID BOSS TO SWOOP ON CHELSEA TALENT

Fichajes claims Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has identified Chelsea quartet Reece James, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mason Mount and Mateo Kovacic as potential targets.

The latter three are all out of contract in 2024, meaning Los Blancos could sign them for free if they do not re-sign.

Perez is plotting to capitalise on Chelsea's downfall this term, with the club to miss next season's Champions League.

Kovacic previously spent three seasons at Santiago Bernabeu, while Mount has attracted interest from several top clubs given his quality and contract status.

 

ROUND-UP

Lionel Messi wants to return to Barcelona when his Paris Saint-Germain contract expire at the end of this season, reports Fichajes. Messi will overlook offers from Saudi Arabia and MLS club Inter Miami to return to his former club.

Manchester United are in pole position to sign French defender Axel Disasi from Monaco in the off season, claims Football Insider. Disasi is out of contract in 2025, with Chelsea and Manchester City also said to be interested.

Liverpool have turned to Bayern Munich midfielder Ryan Gravenberch as an alternative to Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham, claims The Times.

– Calciomercatoweb claims Arsenal are still in the race to sign Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic, despite stiff competition from Madrid and PSG .

Toni Kroos is set to accept a contract extension offer from Madrid and re-commit to the club for another 12 months, reports Marca.

Chelsea have met with ex-Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann as they look for their next permanent manager, according to The Times.

St Louis City snapped their two-game losing skid with a statement win where they piled on five goals within an hour in a 5-1 hammering over Eastern Conference-leading Cincinnati on Saturday.

The MLS expansion side had suffered back-to-back losses after creating league history by winning their first five games but responded at CityPark.

Jared Stroud fired in a third-minute opener from a set-piece before Eduard Lowen lashed home a volley in the 39th minute.

Kyle Hiebert glanced in Stroud's cross in first-half stoppage-time and St Louis did not relent after the break, with Nicholas Gioacchini adding another from Rasmus Alm's classy touch in the 53rd minute.

It was five in the 57th minute when Alm's rifled strike from outside the box hit the post and deflected in off goalkeeper Roman Celentano.

Sergio Santos grabbed a consolation for Cincy, who were unbeaten coming into this encounter.

Dairon Asprilla netted an early goal of the year contender with an acrobatic bicycle kick to equalise for Portland Timbers before they raced away with a 4-1 win over Seattle Sounders.

Asprilla brilliantly netted in the 71st minute before Portland added a further three goals in the final 20 minutes, meaning Seattle slipped from top spot in the West.

Sean Zawadzki netted a 90th-minute equaliser as Columbus Crew pinched a 1-1 home draw with 10-man New England, who move up to top spot in the Eastern Conference ahead of Cincinnati.

Lorenzo Insigne returned from a groin injury as Toronto drew 2-2 with Atlanta. Toronto have drawn four games in a row.

DC United ended their six-game winless run with a 1-0 victory over last-placed Montreal, while New York Red Bulls' streak without a win extended to four games after a 1-1 draw with Houston Dynamo.

Keaton Parks and Maxime Chanot scored excellent early goals as New York City moved up to fifth in the East with a 2-1 win over Nashville.

Austin drew 0-0 with Vancouver Whitecaps, while Orlando City rallied from behind to get past Minnesota United 2-1.

Bernard Kamungo scored an 88th-minute winner as Dallas moved up to fourth in the West with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake, while San Jose Earthquakes crushed Sporting KC 3-0 with a Jeremy Ebobisse double.

Struggling Charlotte drew 2-2 with Colorado Rapids and Philadelphia Union's winless run extended to five games with a 2-2 draw at Chicago Fire although they fought back from 2-0 down.

Xavi accepts Sergio Busquets could decide to end his Barcelona career on a high at the end of the season, though the Blaugrana boss remains hopeful of keeping the midfielder.

Busquets has won 31 major trophies during a glittering 15-year spell with Barca's senior side, but the 34-year-old's contract with the Catalan giants expires at the end of this season.

While Barca president Joan Laporta revealed the club were looking to offer Busquets a one-year extension last month, MLS side Inter Miami have long been credited with an interest in him.

Barca are 12 points clear of Real Madrid at LaLiga's summit ahead of Monday's meeting with Girona, and while Xavi hopes Busquets will stay at Camp Nou, he accepts his captain may view a title triumph as the ideal time to depart.

"Let's see how he ends the season," Xavi said of his former team-mate. "I have said it many times, for me [Busquets] is very important, not only in football but also in the dressing room.

"I have told him many times, I want him to stay but I also understand him. 

"I have told him, if everything goes well, this year he can leave with titles and in a great moment. I understand him perfectly. It's difficult. I will insist that he continues."

Denis Bouanga netted a hat-trick as reigning MLS champions LAFC claimed a statement win with a 3-0 rout of Austin on Saturday.

Bouanga opened the scoring with a low strike with five minutes left in the first half, before adding further goals in the 57th and 68th minutes.

The Gabonese winger fired in a powerful right-foot volley from a corner for 2-0, before side-footing home at the back post for the third.

The result meant LAFC kept in touch with the top two in the Western Conference, with Seattle Sounders moving above St Louis City into top spot with a 3-0 win in the late game.

The Sounders netted three second-half goals to condemn the expansion side to their second straight loss after winning their opening five MLS games.

Phil Neville's Inter Miami slumped to their fifth straight loss, going down 1-0 at home to Dallas. US international Jesus Ferreira scored the only goal in the 27th minute. Dallas moved up to fourth in the West with the victory.

Cincinnati remained top of the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 home win over Philadelphia Union, who are winless in four. New England are second in the East behind Cincy, thrashing Montreal 4-0.

Tom Barlow scored deep into stoppage time to rescue a 1-1 draw for New York Red Bulls against San Jose Earthquakes, while Colorado Rapids edged Sporting KC 1-0 on the road.

New York City and Atlanta United drew 1-1, Nashville and Toronto drew 0-0, while Columbus Crew secured their third straight win with a 2-0 victory at D United.

Kei Kamara scored a double as Chicago Fire won 2-1 over Minnesota United, while Amine Bassi also netted a brace as 10-man Houston Dynamo beat nine-man LA Galaxy 3-0.

Real Salt Lake came from behind to win 3-1 over Charlotte, while Vancouver Whitecaps beat Portland Timbers 1-0.

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