Lionel Messi: Inter Miami superstar all smiles in training as he prepares to return to starting lineup for must-win MLS match against Nashville


Lionel Messi looked in fine spirits as he went through the gears with his Inter Miami teammates on the eve of their must-win game against Nashville.

Miami heads into Wednesday night’s showdown with Nashville in desperate need of a victory to keep its faint playoff hopes alive, with Chicago Fire currently 11 points away in ninth place.

Given they have just 11 matches to play, Tata Martino’s men can ill afford any slip-ups as they go in hunt of a playoff spot – and Messi’s stunning early form for the club only boosts their chances of avoiding one.


Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain has enjoyed a breathtaking start to his Inter career, scoring 11 goals in his first nine games while inspiring the club to Leagues Cup glory earlier this month.

He also provided a vital last-gasp assist for Leonardo Campana in last week’s US Open Cup semifinal victory over Cincinnati.

Lionel Messi trông có tinh thần rất tốt khi tập luyện cùng các đồng đội ở Inter Miami vào thứ Ba


Lionel Messi looked in fine spirits in training with his Inter Miami teammates on Tuesday

Messi enjoyed a conversation with Sergio Busquets on the eve of their clash with Nashville

Messi enjoyed a conversation with Sergio Busquets on the eve of their clash with Nashville

He is set to return to the starting lineup for Wednesday night's must-win game in MLS


He is set to return to the starting lineup for Wednesday night’s must-win game in MLS

The 36-year-old's heroics could be required as Miami looks to keep its playoff hopes alive

The 36-year-old’s heroics could be required as Miami looks to keep its playoff hopes alive

With their playoff aspirations on the line, Messi will hope to replicate those heroics against Nashville in Miami on Wednesday.

One day out from the game he was seen training alongside the likes of Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and DeAndre Yedlin at their DRV PNK Stadium training base.

Miami is expected to parade the Leagues Cup trophy at some stage on Wednesday night – 10 days after prevailing on penalties against Nashville in the final.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, who is set to return to the starting lineup after coming off the bench in Saturday’s MLS win at New York Red Bulls, was all smiles while enjoying a conversation with former Barcelona colleagues Busquets and Alba.

Messi marked his MLS debut with a goal off the bench in New York at the weekend, combining beautifully with Benjamin Cremaschi for Inter’s second goal in a 2-0 victory.


Nevertheless, despite his early success out in the States, Mail Sport columnist and former Premier League striker Chris Sutton does not believe Messi will have a long-lasting impact on American soccer.

When asked if he is going to give MLS long-term credibility, Sutton claimed on Mail Sport’s new podcast It’s All Kicking Off that once the 36-year-old leaves, it will return to a league for ‘washed up players.’

‘I think the MLS would like to think so, but I don’t think it will long term,’ Sutton told Mail Sport’s It’s All Kicking Off podcast.

Messi scored off the bench on his MLS debut at New York Red Bulls at the weekend


Messi scored off the bench on his MLS debut at New York Red Bulls at the weekend

‘Short term, they’ll have the Messi phase. And then when he’s had enough, it will go back to what it was before. It’s a league for, dare I say, washed up players. For European players who want to go to America for the lifestyle with the families at the end of their career.

‘He’s washed up for him, isn’t he? He’s still good, but you know, he’s washed up. Just as Ronaldo is washed up going to the Saudi Pro League. They’re not the players which they once were, because they wouldn’t go there.

‘He’s coming to the end of his career. He’s not the player which he once was, because if he had serious ambition, he would have gone back to Barcelona. I mean, Inter Miami, it’s great. Go over there and take the accolade and raise the profile for a bit. And he’s still a great player and he’s going to attract the crowds.’


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