Lionel Messi sits on the BENCH for 60 minutes of Inter Miami’s game against the New York Red Bulls before finally coming on as Tata Martino gives his star man a rest…despite fans shelling out over $20,000 in tickets for his potential MLS debut.
- Messi has only appeared in cup competitions since arriving in Miami last month
- But his long-awaited MLS debut did not come with a move to Red Bull Arena.
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Messi had a stellar start in the United States, scoring 10 goals in his first eight appearances for Miami and winning the League Cup in the process.
Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain also inspired them this week for the US Open Cup final, which Inter play next month against Houston Dynamo.
His eight appearances so far have been in cup competitions, meaning there is plenty of anticipation for his MLS debut.
So much so that some fans shelled out over $20,000 to get their hands on tickets to Miami’s championship game against the Red Bulls on Saturday night.
Lionel Messi will start on the Inter Miami bench on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls.
So far, Messi’s eight Miami appearances have come in the League Cup and the US Open Cup.
Inter boss Tata Martino (right) has therefore given his star man a well-deserved rest
Unfortunately for the fans in question, Messi wasn’t involved from the start of the match at the Red Bull Arena after being named as a substitute.
Inter boss Tata Martino hinted on Friday that his star man could be rested this weekend after playing eight games in the space of six weeks since joining the club.
Speaking after their midweek victory over Cincinnati in the US Open Cup semi-finals, Martino said: “Leo and many other players are reaching an important physical limit and from today we will start to assess this: how can I face at least the next three games.”
“You also have to take into account the large number of games we have played in 45, 50 days.”
Messi’s former Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets also started Saturday night’s game on the bench.
However, New Jersey finally got to witness Messi’s much-awaited MLS bow as he came on in the 60th minute.
Their patience was rewarded as the Argentine found the back of the net in the 89th minute to cap off his dazzling debut with a goal.
After a remarkable first month on American soil, Messi was due to make his MLS debut at the Red Bull Arena.
It sparked a frenzy on ticket resale sites, with fans whipping their way to the game until $23,528 – including taxes.
Nonetheless, the 36-year-old will only play a part in the game for a reduced amount of time after being rested by Martino – if he comes off the bench.
Given that Miami sits last in the Eastern Conference, Martino might be tempted to rest it completely ahead of a busy schedule in September.
Messi’s madness has well and truly hit the United States, with fans splashing out over $20,000 on tickets for his potential MLS debut against the Red Bulls.
But the Argentinian starts on the bench, despite the high expectation in New York.
Ahead of the US Open Cup final on September 27, Inter have six matches in MLS against Nashville, LAFC, Sporting KC, Atlanta United, Toronto and Orlando City.
Messi played 120 minutes against Cincinnati on Wednesday night, producing a sensational dying cross for Leonardo Campana’s stoppage-time equalizer.
He then scored his penalty as Miami prevailed in the resulting shootout.
In the League Cup final last weekend, the Barcelona legend also played two hours of football before Inter triumphed again on penalties.