Lionel Messi may have completed football, but Tata Martino insists the Argentine icon is not heading to MLS and Inter Miami for a “holiday”.
- Argentine icon leaving PSG as a free agent
- Taking on an American adventure
- Joined in Florida by ex-Barca star Busquets
WHAT HAPPENED? The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner savoured World Cup glory at Qatar 2022, allowing him to collect the one major trophy that had eluded him to that point. Messi now boasts personal and collective honours by the bucketload, with there seemingly being nothing left for him to achieve. He has, however, taken the decision to head for America when leaving Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent, and Martino – who has been named as the new head coach of Inter Miami – expects Messi, along with fellow new recruit Sergio Busquets, to take life in the United States seriously.
WHAT THEY SAID: Martino has said of Messi taking on a new challenge at the age of 36: “When we spoke with Leo, I spoke with Sergio, we talked about arriving to have success, to compete and compete well. This happens to us even on a personal level. Sometimes we associate the United States, Miami, holidays — this isn’t that. We want to compete… they are not footballers who are going to come here to not compete.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Messi is set to reunite with former Barcelona team-mate Busquets in Florida, with Martino insisting that he had already agreed to return to MLS before those stunning deals were done. He added: “I started the talks before [the additions of Messi and Busquets]. I always found this opportunity attractive…let’s just say that the presents arrived next.”
IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? Manchester United and England legend David Beckham has helped to deliver those presents, in his role as co-owner at Inter Miami, with additions clearly required in a squad that continues to languish at the foot of the Eastern Conference – 11 points off the play-off pace.