Lionel Messi: Inter Miami captain unlikely to play another MLS game this season as Tata Martino insists they ‘don’t want to run any risks’
- Messi only came off the bench in Miami’s last outing after recovering from injury
- Martino’s team have nothing left to play for after missing out on the MLS playoffs
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Lionel Messi is unlikely to play in MLS again this season after Inter Miami missed out on the playoffs, Tata Martino has admitted.
Miami has nothing left to play for in 2023 after failing to qualify for the post-season playoffs, with a 1-0 defeat at home to Cincinnati earlier this month effectively bringing their campaign to an end.
Having battled back from injury to be fit for the game, Messi only made it off the bench for 35 minutes that night as his debut MLS season ended in disappointment.
The Argentina superstar had missed their previous four matches after picking up a muscle problem in last month’s 4-0 win at Toronto, including the US Open Cup final defeat by Houston Dynamo.
And with two regular-season MLS fixtures still to play, Miami coach Martino has suggested his captain will play no part in them to avoid any risks.
Lionel Messi is unlikely to play in MLS again this season after Inter Miami’s playoffs blow
Miami coach Tata Martino revealed he does not want to ‘run any risks’ in their final two games
Messi will not be involved in Wednesday’s outing against Charlotte at DRV PNK Stadium after appearing and scoring twice in Argentina’s 2-0 win over Peru on Tuesday. Miami’s last game of the season then comes against the same opposition in North Carolina this Saturday.
Martino said: ‘We will evaluate not only Leo, but all players who are with their national teams when they return Thursday, as we are out of the playoffs, and we don’t want to run any risks.’
Despite their playoff heartbreak, it has been a positive season on the whole for Miami following Messi’s arrival, with the team going from MLS basement boys to playoffs hopefuls, US Open Cup finalists and Leagues Cup winners in the space of a few months.
There will be hope for the franchise to climb further up the table next season with the Barcelona legend in their ranks from the very start this time around, and Martino is determined to use the final two matches to begin making improvements.
‘We want to compete and it’s our obligation to finish the season the best we possibly can,’ he continued.
‘In some way we want to improve the image of the team from the last three or four games.
‘And, for the coaching staff it is important because we are getting back players we haven’t had in a while, and we can use these games to evaluate and help make decisions for next season.’
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