Inter Miami fans finally have the news they have been waiting for with new signing Lionel Messi set to feature against Cruz Azul. The MLS side is in action tonight (July 21) for the League’s Cup opener, but the date also holds great significance for the club’s co-owner David Beckham.
It has been confirmed that Messi will feature against Inter Miami’s Mexican opponents tonight at the team’s DRV PNK Stadium. The game will be his first club fixture since leaving Paris Saint-Germain after both sides agreed not to extend his stay for a further year.
After becoming a free agent, Messi agreed a deal to join David Beckham’s MLS franchise on a two and a half year deal and has since been unveiled by the club at a lavish ceremony. Appearing alongside his family and Beckham, the 36-year-old expressed his desire to give his all for his new team.
Coincidently, Messi’s debut shares the same date as the first time the Miami co-owner made his first MLS appearance. Beckham kick-started his LA Galaxy career on July, 21 2007, 16 years prior to Messi’s.
In another surprising coincidence, Beckham saw his debut coming from the bench in the 78th minute. Messi is also expected to make his debut from the sidelines, with a short 15 minute cameo, as he works to build up his fitness.
The Argentine will be hoping for a better result in his first game then his predecessor had. Beckham’s debut saw him come on to replace Galaxy forward Alan Gordon in the club’s World Football Challenge friendly against Premier League opponents Chelsea.
The Los Angeles side went on to lose by a narrow 1-0 scoreline thanks to a John Terry goal. Messi will be hoping for a better outcome against a side that only won once in their final five league games of the season.
Messi’s confirmed appearance will be music to fan’s ears after doubts that his debut could be delyaed. The World Cup winner has only trained with his new side a handful of times as he reunites with his former Argentina and Barcelona boss, Tata Martino.
Earlier in the week Beckham played down expectations that Messi would feature in the game, saying: “We don’t know if Leo is going to play the game or if he will have minutes because I think that, after all, he needs to be ready.
“We have to protect him and make sure that he is ready, because he has been on vacation and has just arrived in Miami. He has trained and he looks good. I think Lio and Tata [Martino] will decide when and if he plays on Friday. But the atmosphere here will be amazing and hopefully we can get the win.”