Inter Miami has officially announced a new addition to their preseason friendly fixture list. The Major League Soccer side recently announced a matchup with the El Salvador national team on Jan. 19. This match is happening in the Central American nation. Miami is then playing two games in Saudi Arabia and one in Hong Kong. One of these Middle Eastern matchups will be against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr.

However, the MLS club will now play Japanese club Vissel Kobe of the J1 League on February 7th. The fixture will be Miami’s final preseason game in Asia before heading back home to the United States.

“Tokyo is an inspiring destination with a fervent fútbol community that we’re looking forward to getting acquainted with. We’re thrilled to visit Japan as one of our stops as we continue to bring joy to our global fanbase,” proclaimed Miami’s chief business officer Xavier Asensi.

“Our aspiration remains to make our fans’ dreams come true, and we believe this match will be a fantastic occasion for them to look forward to, and a wonderful moment for our players.”

Inter Miami taking Messi mania international with Asian tour

Scheduling such an extensive international preseason tour is fairly unusual for an MLS club. Nevertheless, Lionel Messi’s addition to the squad has made the club look at ways to capitalize on the superstar’s popularity. Miami officials previously scheduled, and then canceled, a tour of China back in November. The move to scrap the trip happened just days prior to the matches.

Team executives did, however, manage to schedule a friendly against fellow MLS side New York City FC instead. The fixture celebrated Messi’s recent Ballon d’Or triumph. It was the Argentine’s record-extending eighth win of the prestigious trophy. The forward was in the starting lineup for the friendly, but the visitors ended up winning the match 2-1 on the night.

Former Barcelona players to face Iniesta during trip

Messi, along with Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, will reunite with Andres Iniesta during the Japan trip. The former Spain international previously played for Vissel Kobe and now features with UAE side Emirates Club. However, Iniesta will be present for the fixture between Miami and Vissel Kobe. The four stars previously played together at Barcelona. Japanese company Rakuten currently owns Vissel Kobe and was Barca’s main sponsor from 2017 to 2021.

The Japanese side recently collected their first ever J1 league title. “Vissel Kobe is a powerhouse club in Asia coming off of a historic season after winning the J1 League, so we’re thrilled about this opportunity to sharpen our team in a match like this one,” stated Miami team exec Chris Henderson.

“We continue to look for the best ways to prepare for 2024 and feel confident this match and this tour will help us do that.”

Following the trip to Japan, Miami will return Stateside to face Newell’s Old Boys on Feb. 15. Messi previously played for the Argentine team before making the move to Barca in 2000. The 2024 MLS season then begins soon after this matchup. The league has yet to reveal their schedule for the upcoming season, but MLS typically begins in late February.