Lionel Messi, who is 36 years old, has made a noticeable impact for Inter Miami.
He has scored three goals and provided an assist in the 120 minutes he has played on the field. However, his teammates believe that his influence off the field may be equally important.
Despite joining the last-placed club in Major League Soccer, Lionel Messi, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and the recently crowned World Cup-winning Argentine captain, faced several challenges.
After spending his entire career playing alongside top-notch players at Barcelona, Messi now finds himself at Paris Saint-Germain, where he is surrounded by unfamiliar faces. Despite earning significantly more money and having a more impressive football career than his teammates, there was no guarantee that he would establish a bond with the rest of the squad.
To complicate matters further, Lionel Messi joined the club alongside another former Barcelona star, Sergio Busquets. However, those associated with Inter Miami are quick to point out that both Messi and Busquets have set aside their egos and made an effort to integrate with their new teammates.
“To be honest, I think that boils down to their character,” says American full-back DeAndre Yedlin.
“They’ve come in and they haven’t boasted or been like, oh, we’re the big guys here or anything like that. They’ve tried to meld right into the group,” said the defender, who gave up his captain’s armband to Messi.
Yedlin states that despite the knowledge that their every desire would be accommodated, the duo has not received any preferential treatment at the training ground.
“They eat the same things we eat and train the same way we train and use the same trainers that we use. There’s nothing different.
“So we really feel like they’re a part of the group, one of us. And I think that helps us,” added Yedlin, who played in England’s Premier League with Newcastle United.
After their consecutive victories with their new teammates, Yedlin was seen wearing new headphones in the team’s pink and black colors, which he mentioned were gifted by Messi to the entire team. Any worries about a division between the existing players and the newcomers have disappeared since the duo joined the club in South Florida.
“Nobody really knew what to expect. But, they’ve been an incredibly pleasant surprise to work with and to learn from and to play with,” he said.
The change in Miami’s performance, from a struggling team with low confidence to a confident and stylish team, cannot be solely attributed to Messi and Busquets’ skills. Both players are dedicated to helping their teammates improve.
Instead of showing frustration like some other star players in MLS, Messi responds to his teammates’ mistakes with suggestions and support.