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The Lionel Messi Factor Could Flip Inter Miami’s MLS Title Hopes, Asserts LA Galaxy Star

“In football, the team with the best players wins.” These words from Xavi Hernandez would sound like music to the ears of a fortunate team like Inter Miami, which boasts one of the finest players of all time, Lionel Messi. While having La Pulga in their ranks enables the Herons to dream big, like winning the MLS Cup, LA Galaxy’s Riqui Puig echoes a similar sentiment, acknowledging that the presence of Messi ‘changes a lot.’

Not only the Argentinian superstar, but having his ex-Barcelona teammates like Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba gives the David Beckham-owned franchise an enormous boost. However, Puig, another former Catalan star, had an eye-opening claim when enquired whether Inter Miami stands as the candidate to win the coveted trophy. Speaking to EFE Deportes, the midfielder stated, “I won’t say they are the favorites, but having the best player in history, Messi, changes a lot.”

While it is quite a bold take from the LA Galaxy starlet, what do the numbers say? 


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After enduring a shaky pre-season, Inter Miami has bounced back from last season’s struggles. In their first six MLS games, they have accumulated ten points, winning three, and drawing one (against Puig’s LA Galaxy), while suffering two losses, and remain just one point behind leaders Cincinnati. Although there is room for improvement, Inter Miami showcased their potential in the CONCACAF Champions League, knocking out Nashville to progress to the quarter-finals. Yet Miami should remain grounded.

Even Martino earlier urged fans and the media not to ‘Jump the Gun, as they were deemed favorites. This raises the question of whether team cohesion remains the critical point of success despite boasting a star-studded line-up.

The weight of expectation remains on the shoulders of Lionel Messi and Inter Miami 


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Last season, fans had to cut Inter Miami some slack. With Lionel Messi arriving towards the end of the season, the 36-year-old had limited time to make an impact with his new team. Despite the brief duration, he managed to lead Miami to their first-ever silverware in the form of the Leagues Cup. However, this year presents a different scenario for Miami, as La Pulga began the season with the Herons from scratch, not to forget alongside notable arrivals like Luis Suarez and Federico Redondo.

USA Today via Reuters

While Messi’s 5 goals and 2 assists in 5 matches, and El Pistolero’s 6 goals and 5 assists across 8 matches so far suggest they are on the right track. The two defeats and the 9 goals conceded so far are somewhat disheartening. Nevertheless, it’s still too early to conclude hastily. Perhaps Miami’s fortunes will change as the year progresses, provided there is team cohesion. Rest assured, there will be many, like Puig, who will back Messi and Miami as favorites for the MLS crown.


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Do you agree with Riqui Puig’s verdict on Inter Miami being favorites for the MLS Cup? Let us know in the comments. 

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