Inter Miami is building a Barcelona outpost in the United States by acquiring Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets. Plus, with the likely addition of Spanish fullback Jordi Alba, Inter Miami is taking on key members of the Barcelona teams that won with relative frequency in the 2010s. Added to that mixture is the Tata Martino hire, Barcelona’s former coach from 2013-14.

The only challenge is that Messi, Busquets and Alba are 36, 34 and 34 years old, respectively. That is not exactly players entering their prime ready to lead Inter Miami to glory on all fronts. Even in recent seasons, Messi has shown a notable lack of commitment at club level, particularly defensively. With the ball, he remains a magician. But, without it, he may not have the same drive he did in his younger years.

Even then, he remains a major grab for Inter Miami, and he can be pivotal to turning around what has been a dismal season at DRV PNK Stadium. The Ligue 1 Foreign Player of the Year delivered 41 goal contributions across 41 games in all competitions last season. He also scored seven and assisted three in the seven World Cup games en route to lifting the trophy and the Golden Ball award.

Now, he joins back with two of his closest friends during his time at Barcelona. Sergio Busquets brings his calm style of play into the Miami midfield. Alba’a marauding runs down the left side linked up brilliantly with Messi with the Spanish club. It can easily do the same in Major League Soccer.

What reforming Barcelona with Messi and company means for Inter Miami

Three key additions help Miami. That is almost regardless of how well they do, particularly compared to the Champions League-winning performances in Barcelona. Right now, not much could be going worse for Inter Miami. From the middle of May through the end of June, Inter Miami did not win a single league game. It did save some face in the US Open Cup, where Inter is in the semifinals. However, the league is likely the focus given MLS’s general take on the Open Cup as a whole.

If the league is the focus, Messi will need to provide goals that he did with frequency at both Barcelona and PSG. Inter Miami has scored just 17 goals. That is third from bottom, with only LA Galaxy and the Colorado Rapids mustering fewer. Having Busquets and Alba helping deliver balls to Messi can be a major boost for the club and the player.

Jordi Alba notched the primary assist on 23 Messi goals during their time together in Barcelona. Busquets added a further 16 to Messi’s impeccable tally. Mind you, Alba and Busquets play relatively far from Messi on the pitch. During most of those years at Camp Nou, Busquets worked as a defensive midfielder behind Xavi and Iniesta. Jordi Alba was a left-back. Messi, on the other hand, played way out on the right wing.

Answering the injury crisis

In the immediate future, the arrivals of these players at least fill voids in Miami’s squad. Part of the club’s struggles can go to the recurrence of injuries at key positions. Inter forward Corentin Jean and left-back Franco Negri suffered season-ending knee injuries in June. Midfielder Jean Mota is also out for an extended period of time that could reach the end of this campaign. While Mota is more attacking than Busquets, the three new arrivals are natural replacements for players that made a considerable number of appearances this season.

In that case, these additions make practical sense. At the same time, they are upgrades in both talent and teammate knowledge. This is Negri’s first season with Inter Miami, Jean’s first full season and Mota’s second season. By comparison, Messi, Busquets and Alba spent nine seasons together. They epitomized the Barcelona style that had all that success in the previous decade.

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Success will be pivotal fast for Miami if it has any hope of making the playoffs. Sergio Aguero already poked fun at Messi by pointing out where Messi’s new club is in the Eastern Conference table. Yet, if Messi, Busquets and Alba can provide some of that Barcelona magic that led to a sextuple in 2015, things may not be so bleak.

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