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Messi’s Miami move No holiday, Says Martino
- Updated: June 30, 2023
Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets are joining Inter Miami to compete, not for a holiday, the newly appointed coach of the Major League Soccer (MLS) side Gerardo Martino said.
The 60-year-old coached Messi and Busquets at Barcelona in 2013-14 before managing Argentina from 2014-16.
Record seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi, 36, opted not to renew his contract with Ligue 1 champions Paris St Germain and will be reunited with former Barca team mate Busquets, who spent 18 years at Camp Nou.
Martino said during his introductory press conference on Thursday that both Messi and Busquets had spoken with him about coming to Miami to be successful.
“This happens to us even on a personal level; sometimes we associate the United States, Miami, holidays – this isn’t that.” he added. “We want to compete… they are not footballers who are going to come here to not compete.”
Martino said he started talks with the David Beckham co-owned side even before Messi and Busquets confirmed their moves.
He replaced Phil Neville after the former Manchester United defender was sacked following a dismal run of 10 defeats and five wins left them bottom of the Eastern Conference.
“I always found this opportunity attractive … let’s just say that the presents arrived next,” Martino said.
“I believe that MLS has a constant evolution, and the examples are the great soccer players from the United States who are playing in Europe and very good teams in Europe.
“(And) that the best player in the world decides to play in this league, obviously it will open up an even better panorama for that growth. I believe that the United States is not a country that misses out on this type of opportunity.”
Messi is expected to make his debut for Miami on July 21 in a Leagues Cup clash against Mexican side Cruz Azul.