With videoLionel Messi continues to wear the captain’s armband at his new club Inter Miami CF. This was said by his coach Tata Martino as he approached his team’s next game against Atlanta United on Tuesday night (01:30 a.m.) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Messi made his debut for his new club overnight from Friday to Saturday with a substitute in the match against Mexican Cruz Azul. Messi came on in the 52nd minute and immediately received the captain’s armband. Along with Messi, Busquets and Venezuela forward Josef Martínez also entered the pitch. Together with the 21,000 spectators, they saw how Messi secured the 2-1 victory in the 94th minute with a sublime free kick.
“On his debut, we immediately gave the tire to Leo when he came on and now he remains our captain,” Martino said. “What we saw from Messi in the game is that he immediately led and motivated his teammates. He did that in training last week. He helps young players a lot and talks to them about football.
With 12.5 million viewers, Messi’s debut with Inter Miami was the most-watched football match on American television. It was even better watched than last year’s most-watched NBA Finals of all time between the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics had 12.4 million viewers in the United States. Celebrities such as David Beckham (owner and chairman of Inter Miami), Victoria Beckham, LeBron James, Serena Williams, Gloria Estefan and Kim Kardashian sat in the stands Friday night at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, an hour north of downtown Miami.
Messi not only made himself popular with his new fans and teammates with his winning goal on his debut, but also with a nice gesture afterwards. His young Jamaican teammate Ian Fray (20) seriously injured his knee during the game, having returned in May after 804 days of rehabilitation. Afterwards, Messi held up Fray’s shirt in the dressing room for a group photo and in his interview shortly after the game he also spoke directly about Fray. “I want to dedicate this victory to Ian Fray, who clearly suffered in the dressing room from the injury he suffered. He has just come back from two serious knee injuries and was unlucky to be injured again. I wish him well,” said Messi.
Martino: ‘Messi ready for the starting place’
Messi’s second game at Inter Miami awaits Wednesday. Atlanta United, where Frank de Boer once coached, will also play again in the League Cup, a tournament between American and Mexican clubs. MLS, in which Inter Miami are last in the Easter Conference and reaching the playoffs is nearly impossible, will not resume until August 21.
Martino believes Messi (36) is ready for a starting spot. Midfielder Sergio Busquets (35) is now also fit enough to start the duel with Atlanta United. Left-back Jordi Alba, also from FC Barcelona, could make his debut.
Nick Marsman watched Messi’s debut for Inter Miami from the stands. The 32-year-old Zwolle goalkeeper completed the no-transfer move from Feyenoord to Inter Miami two years ago. In his first season, he played thirty more games, but this season he only played twice for the Florida club. Last month Marsman landed for a while to the hospital after being bitten by a poisonous spider in a zoo.
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