Lionel Messi is expected to return to action for Inter Miami in Wednesday’s MLS clash with Toronto having missed the 5-2 loss to Atlanta United at the weekend. The 36-year-old seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was rested for the trip to Atlanta after picking up a knock while away on international duty with Argentina.
Messi, who has 11 goals, five assists, and one Leagues Cup trophy to his name since joining Miami, missed Argentina’s World Cup Qualifier win over Bolivia. The legendary soccer star wasn’t the only high-profile player to miss Miami’s defeat at Atlanta. Jordi Alba was also rested, with head coach Gerardo Martino warning of the consequences of over-working his key players.
The defeat keeps Miami seven points off the final MLS Eastern Conference playoff spot and they have seven games to save their season. However, their run is far from easy, playing both of the Eastern Conference’s top two teams, Cincinnati and Orlando City. But in a boost, Messi is expected to return against Toronto on Wednesday, according to ESPN.
Whether Messi plays a full game is unknown, as Miami’s US Open Cup Final against Houston Dynamo is just around the corner. Miami takes on Houston next Wednesday in their bid for a second trophy in 2023.
“Messi and Alba will train in the full session today with the team, and after that, we’ll see if they’re available to play and to what extent,” Martino said. “Beginning on Wednesday, we have six matches in 18 days, which is one match every three days, including the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final.
“We have a lot of important matches in a short window of time, and one of my responsibilities as the coach is to care for my players and help them make the hard decisions that will give us the best chance of keeping everyone healthy during this busy run.”
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One of Messi’s teammates, and former Newcastle United defender, DeAndre Yedlin, also confirmed that the Argentine is ready to go. “Obviously you talk about Leo, he’s the best player ever in the game,” he said.
“From the opponent’s standpoint, it strikes a bit of fear in them as well. Experience means a lot, especially in this league. As you saw in that Atlanta game where it’s up and down, up and down, [having Messi] helps slow the game down a bit.”
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