Regarding the injured Lionel Messi, here is how things stand for Inter Miami at the moment: He might play, the team keeps claiming, but he never does.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was not selected for Saturday’s encounter against New York City FC, a contest that had important playoff implications for both teams in Major League Soccer. Messi has a leg injury, but Inter Miami has not disclosed how serious it is.
About 45 minutes prior to kickoff on Saturday, the team announced that Messi would not be participating. Miami still has magic even without Messi thanks to Tomás Avilés’s late header that broke the tie and restored a score of 1-1. NYCFC had the lead on a goal by Santiago Rodriguez in the 77th minute.
The 36-year-old Messi has now missed four of Inter Miami’s last five games as well as one for Argentina during that time due to what was initially referred to be weariness by both his club and nation before changing over time. He only appeared in one game during that time period, a 37-minute contest against Toronto on September 20, and he was forced to leave the game before halfway due to what is thought to be a hamstring problem.
“He’s doing better and better,” Inter Miami head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino stated following Saturday’s game.
Regardless of whether Messi returns or not, Inter Miami still has a chance to make the postseason, but that chance took a knock on Saturday and the squad is no longer in control of that outcome.
Inter Miami is four points behind Montreal for the ninth and last Eastern Conference playoff position; Montreal has three games left, while Inter Miami has four. With the stalemate, NYCFC climbed one spot to No. 8 in the East.
And Messi’s future is still unknown, despite the fact that some supporters pay hundreds of dollars or more to watch a game in the hopes of seeing him play. According to Martino, Messi will be on the practice field in the upcoming days, and an updated evaluation will be released on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the team’s next game is at Chicago.
Social media users have reacted angrily to team statements about Messi’s status due to the lack of transparency. Around lunchtime on Saturday, a post previewing the NYCFC game received feedback like “Post the squad and don’t trick your own fans. Embrace your shame. & “Can y’all be more clear about what’s going on with Messi”
The team has been the subject of discussion outside of Messi’s status recently. This week, Inter Miami handed out letters for season-ticket renewals, with significant price increases in each section for the following campaign.
Season ticket prices for some seats near midfield will be 98% higher (from $1,333 to $2,635) than the published price of what they were this year in some sections, and other fans were told to expect a more than 100% increase over what they have been paying.
These prices will increase in the section where Inter Miami’s most ardent supporters stand, chant, and wave banners for the entirety of matches, where season ticket prices are set to increase 82% (from $485 to $884) in 2024. The highest-priced season tickets for the upcoming season have a stated price of over $40,000, and that doesn’t include the suites.
Price increases were undoubtedly anticipated; Messi will receive more than $50 million annually on average over the course of his two-and-a-half-year contract, and that’s before accounting for the money Inter Miami spent to sign Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets, the club’s other two key midseason additions this year.
However, it’s also obvious that the team is already making use of brand-new revenue streams. It comes as no surprise at all that Messi’s shirt is the most popular in the league this year, according to MLS’s announcement on Friday. Without disclosing sales figures, the MLS revealed the top 25 jerseys purchased from mlsstore.com, with Messi’s coming in at No. 1, Busquets at No. 13, and Josef Martinez of Inter Miami at No. 21.
Messi and Busquets didn’t even join Inter Miami until July, and that data includes every purchase made on the website since it launched. Additionally, it excludes anything that the team has independently sold.
In 12 games this season with Inter Miami, Messi has scored 11 goals. The team is 8-0-4 when he plays; seven of those games took place during the team’s quest to win its first-ever trophy, the League Cup, which was ironic because it raised questions about how much Messi was expected to play so soon after joining his new club. He has participated in one U.S. Open Cup semifinal and four MLS games.
In the five games since Messi joined the team, the team has a current record of 1-2-2. Since Messi’s acquisition, Inter Miami has won games 29–12 while he’s on the pitch and 13–11 when he isn’t.