Lionel Messi’s busy schedule since joining Inter Miami has proven to be very fruitful for both player and club. Still, a period of rest was considered necessary.
The Argentine scored again on Saturday, this time in his team’s 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls in MLS.
While at certain moments during the match fans showed impatience with the South American star’s absence from the starting line-up, coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino emphasized that the situation served as a valuable test for the rest of the team to play without. Messi.
He emphasized that it is important to remember that the world champion will miss at least three games in action for the rest of the year.
“The response from the team during the opening hour was extremely positive,” noted Martino.
“We enjoyed dominance in important parts of the game and secured the lead, which was a vital achievement.
“This situation offered an opportunity to see the performance of the team without Leo in the first game. The response was really satisfying.
“I strongly believe that it is crucial to appreciate the significance of this victory as we have to adjust to the reality that Leo will be joining his national team.
“His absence will be felt in at least three games this year and the same scenario is likely to repeat itself next year. We should understand that the team must maintain reliability when he is not present.”
Argentina’s national team will begin qualifying for the World Cup with matches scheduled for September 7 and 12.
As MLS continues its ongoing activities, Messi could miss at least two games, namely the match against Sporting KC on September 9 and, depending on his return, possibly the clash with Atlanta United on September 16.
In October, the Albiceleste will play another pair of qualifying matches, taking on Paraguay and Peru on October 12 and 17, respectively. These matches coincide with the final stages of the MLS regular season, which could result in Messi missing the next game.
What matches are in store for Messi?
After his significant layoff during the NY Red Bulls game, Messi is indeed confirmed to be back on the pitch for the next two games with Inter Miami, just before his departure for the Argentina national team.
Inter Miami is scheduled to face Nashville on Wednesday, followed by a game against LAFC on September 3.
“The parties that have to reach a consensus are the players and the coaching staff,” added Martino.
“I fully understand the excitement of the fans to witness Messi in action. This phenomenon will manifest itself wherever we go. However, we must stick steadfastly to our plan because a deviation from it could potentially jeopardize Leo’s physical well-being.
“There is no requirement for me to apologize to the fans, however I appreciate their expectations. Unless there are any unforeseen circumstances, Messi will definitely be involved in the upcoming two games. That is quite likely.”
While players usually have a strong desire to take part in every game, Martino detailed how he successfully convinced Messi to take a break on Saturday.
“Our discussion revolved around the fact that we had three games for the coming week and it was necessary for him to rest at some point,” explained Martino.
“I felt that this particular match provided an ideal opportunity for such a break. Leo agreed with this prospect.
“After going through a difficult period involving several games over the course of a month, being able to play 30 minutes today serves as a beneficial part of his recovery.”