Inter Miami, which has been eliminated from the current MLS season, faces a long period without competitive commitments, sparking rumors that Lionel Messi could be loaned out during the four months the American club would be inactive. Both Barcelona and clubs in Saudi Arabia have emerged as potential suitors.
The idea of loaning a player in such circumstances is not new. An example of this was Thierry Henry, who played in Major League Soccer. In early 2012, Henry left the New York Red Bulls and signed a two-month contract with Arsenal, a club where he is an idol and had previously played between 1999 and 2007.
At the time, 34-year-old Henry played only seven games, all as a substitute, and scored two goals in his return to English football. The New York team agreed to the deal during the MLS offseason, which began in March. Henry stayed in the United States until November and donned the Arsenal shirt in January and February.
The invitation for Henry’s return came from Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager at the time. The team was about to lose two attacking players due to the African Cup of Nations, Ivorian Gervinho and Moroccan Chamakh. The opportunity to reinforce the squad for a short period was well received.
Upon returning to London, Henry wore the number 12 shirt, the same number he used for the French national team, as the traditional number 14 shirt at the time belonged to Theo Walcott.
In the case of Lionel Messi, Inter Miami’s early elimination extends the period without competitive games. The last match of the current MLS season, in which Tata Martino’s team has no chance of making the playoffs, is scheduled for October 21st against Cincinnati. It will be approximately four months of inactivity until the start of the 2024 season.
Messi played 13 games and scored 11 goals wearing Inter Miami’s jersey, with most of them coming in the Copa de la Liga, a tournament involving Mexican teams that the team won in August. The team’s performance with the Argentine on the field is 71.7%, while without him, it drops to 27.7%.
Regarding the 2023 MLS playoffs, in both conferences, the top seven teams advance to the round of 16, and the eighth and ninth-placed teams face off to determine who claims the last playoff spot. The knockout games will be played until December 9, the date of the grand final. In the Western Conference, St. Louis City, Los Angeles FC, Seattle Sounders, Houston Dynamo, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Real Salt Lake have already secured qualification. In the Eastern Conference, Cincinnati, Orlando City, Philadelphia Union, Columbus Crew, New England Revolution, Atlanta United, and Nashville have advanced.
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