Coach Tata Martino said Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets are likely to make their debuts for Inter Miami tomorrow night against Atlanta United.
His former Barcelona teammates, who previously played 568 matches together, joined the MLS club this summer and made their first match off the bench against Cruz Azul at the weekend.
Messi, now captain of the Miami club, scored a stoppage-time free kick to seal the winning League Cup match at DRV PNK.
Tomorrow’s match is another League Cup group stage match, and Martino, who previously coached Atlanta between 2016 and 2018, says Messi and Busquets are likely to start, but it depends on their fitness.
“It is very likely that Leo and Bossi will play more,” Martino said on Monday. “It is possible to believe that if they play more minutes, the team dynamic will change, and it is likely that they will do it from the start. Everything will depend on how they feel.”
Messi in Miami – read more…
Miami midfielder Robert Taylor discussed how the two former Barcelona players influenced the match against Cruz Azul.
“When they came in, it obviously changed the game in a big way,” Taylor said. “What I’ve noticed is, every time I get the ball from Busquets or Messi I’ll have a lot of space and time. They draw players to them, they know when to release the ball and when to keep it. It’s a level they bring to the game that will help everyone around them.”
Martino also touched on the different levels Messi can bring to the team.
He said: “It’s like he (Messi) moved away from those elite levels, where the people playing alongside him were so important, highly skilled players, and replaced them with this one who… Seeing him the other day, when he came into the game, it was like seeing him enter one of those games in the arena that you’re going to play, and you enter those games wanting the ball, and he enters them wanting the ball.”
Messi, who snatched the armband from DeAndre Yedlin when he first came on as a substitute, completed his transfer to Miami earlier this month and signed a two-and-a-half season contract, with the option to extend for another year in the 2026 season.
Messi chose to move to the United States after his exit from Paris Saint-Germain, despite the interest of Barcelona and Al Hilal Saudi Arabia.
He has joined former coach Martino at the club following his appointment as head coach in June, and is also joined by former Barcelona teammates Busquets and Jordi Alba.
The Making of Messi: Special Audio Series by the athlete
To celebrate Messi’s move to Miami, we’ve created A three-part audio special, The Making of Messi. The trip tells how each road ended up pointing to Florida.
In addition to the ups and downs on the field, we chart his complex relationship with his home country Argentina and illustrate the nuances of the unique deal that brought him to Miami – from stocks to jersey sales to Saudi Arabia.
It features James Horncastle at his best, Michael Cox with his unparalleled tactical vision and Felipe Cardenas and Paul Tenorio’s local expertise as we get to the heart of what makes Messi tick on and off the pitch.
You can listen to files ‘The Making of Messi’ in its entirety, for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcast. Just search for this address or the athleteDocumentary summary “Go Deeper”.
Do you think you know Messi? Test yourself with a quiz of 20 questions
(Photo: EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP via Getty Images)
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