In less than three months, Lionel Messi has experienced a roller coaster with Inter Miami from their triumphant first League Cup title to Saturday’s bitter elimination from MLS, which condemned him to a widespread and has become inactive.
The Argentine star will compete in a maximum of six more games before the end of the year, the last two for already relegated Inter in the MLS against Charlotte and four with the Argentine team in the South American qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup against Paraguay and Peru in October and Uruguay and Brazil in November.
Since then Messi will enter an unusual competition in his amazing career because MLS usually starts its new season at the end of February at the earliest.
The expanded Concacaf Champions Cup, in which Inter will compete for the first time in search of a ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup, has also not defined its calendar so far.
Due to this situation, the Florida franchise is working on several projects to increase the presence of the seven-time winner of the Ballon d’Or in American soccer.
One of the proposals being worked on is to celebrate a friendly in early 2024 against Argentine Newell’s Old Boys, Messi’s childhood team.
“I understand that there are many opportunities (but) they have to look at the issue of dates because it coincides a little with the start of the Argentine league,” Inter coach Gerardo Martino said last week about the possible friendly . .
‘Tata’, on the other hand, responded with irony on Saturday to rumors about a possible loan of Messi to Barcelona in the coming months, in the style that David Beckham or Thierry Henry did during their stay in MLS .
“It’s going to be a walk, right? It surprised me, I didn’t know anything,” Martino said after the 1-0 loss to FC Cincinnati that left Inter mathematically out of the MLS playoffs.
“If you told me that he would visit Barcelona on vacation, I would say yes, probably, but I don’t know about it,” the coach settled the rumours, echoed by the Spanish media after Inter. The main owner, Jorge Mas, said in an interview that he will do “everything possible in the future” so that Messi “will have the opportunity to say goodbye to his fans in Barcelona.”
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– Ambitious project –
Messi’s decision to move to Miami at the end of his bitter spell at PSG rocked the football world in June.
Released after winning his long-awaited World Cup in Qatar, the star from Rosario has decided that his next challenge is to become the flag of football in the booming American market, rejecting a possible return to Barcelona as well as a lucrative offer from Saudi football.
Without a preseason, with only a few training sessions at the end of his vacation, Messi had a surprising start in Miami, which became the worst MLS team to win the Leagues Cup, a tournament where 47 teams from the North. The American and Mexican leagues play.
“Hopefully this is just the beginning,” said the star, who almost never gave a statement to the press in the United States.
Supported by his former Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, Messi scored in all seven games in a dream tournament, for a total of 10 goals.
His body, however, began to fail him at the beginning of September. Messi, 36, returned injured from a training camp with Argentina and ended up missing four straight games with Inter in which they lost the US Open Cup final and almost all their chances of making it back to the playoffs. spots disappeared.
The Argentine returned to the pitch on Saturday in the second half of the match against FC Cincinnati, in an attempt to save his team from elimination, but he looked out of rhythm and was hardly threatened by a couple of free kicks.
With no one else to compete this year, the franchise owned by David Beckham is already working to strengthen its ambitious project for next year’s big challenges, where names like Uruguayan Luis Suárez and even the Croatian Luka Modric was mentioned. .
“There’s a lot of work to do for the future,” Martino said Saturday. “What the club did in the summer was amazing (…) Now we have to be precise and strong in the reanalysis.”