Lionel Messi injury update: Inter Miami press conference ahead of Hong Kong game


Inter Miami’s preseason jaunt to Saudi Arabia was not the success that organisers would have hoped.

The Herons were beaten by Al-Hilal (4-3) and Al-Nassr (6-0) in their two friendly fixtures, and the much-hyped ‘Last Dance’ between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo did not materialise. Al-Nassr forward Ronaldo pulled out of the game due to injury the day before and Messi was a surprise omission from the starting XI, although he did enter the action as a late substitute.

Reports suggest that Messi was suffering with a slight hamstring injury and Miami opted not to risk their star asset. Speaking to reporters in Hong Kong on Friday, Herons head coach Tata Martino confirmed that he expects Messi to feature in Sunday’s game.

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Lionel Messi was fit enough to join a children’s session at Hong Kong Stadium on Saturday.LAM YIKREUTERS

“We want Leo [Messi] to play as much as possible,” Martino said. “We will evaluate the players. The hope is that Leo can play the most minutes. We will see in tomorrow’s training but it is likely he will play on Sunday.”

“We’ve had four games without winning in preseason, we have to come out of this dynamic,” the former Barcelona boss added. “It’s a priority to win Sunday’s game.”

Inter Miami rife with preseason “imperfections”

Miami, with their unique blend of superstar veterans and academy graduates, were always expected to need a little time to gel at the start of 2024. But even allowing for the winds of change that have swept through South Florida in the past six months, Miami’s preseason performances have looked worryingly disorganised.

They have lost three of their four games so far this preseason, the most recent a chastening six-goal drubbing at the hands of an Al-Nassr side without either Ronaldo or Sadio Mané. Speaking ahead of Sunday’s game in Hong Kong, Martino admitted that he had expected more from his side.

“The results and performances of the team in Saudi Arabia was not what we expected… We competed well in our first game in Saudi Arabia but our second game was very disappointing.

“There are many aspects that need improving. We’ve had imperfections, it’s not a specific thing. Obviously we’ve conceded many goals. We are trying to find a way for the players to give their best.”

But despite these teething problems, Miami remain one of the favorites to compete for MLS Cup in 2024. The league’s playoff competition structure means that they do not need to be at their best from the very start; as long as they make it to the postseason in good shape, they will be difficult to stop.

“If there is a time when this has to happen and an alarm has to ring, it is better that it happens in preseason,” Martino explained. “We will try to improve and put the best team forward in our first league game.”



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