Inter Miami head coach Tata Martino has claimed Lionel Messi may make his debut with the club as a substitute. The Argentine superstar officially joined the Major League Soccer outfit on Sunday after agreeing to a deal in June. Messi has joined his teammates on the pitch this week, but may not be ready to start just yet. Inter host Mexican side Cruz Azul in a Leagues Cup matchup on Friday.

Martino made a similar claim about fellow new signing Sergio Busquets as well. The former Spain international also agreed to join Inter in June. Nevertheless, like Messi, the midfielder only just began training with the club this week.

“From what I have seen up to now they are going fit to play and it is likely that on Friday they can be there,” Martino told ESPN on Wednesday. “Whether that will be as starters or coming in at the half, we will have to make that decision yet, but as I see it, Leo as well as Busi can play [on Friday].”

While Messi may only be utilized as a second-half substitute on Friday, ticket prices for the game continue to rise. According to current rates at StubHub, the lowest current price for match tickets start at $200 each. However, the best seats available for the Leagues Cup game are going for over $17,800 per ticket.

Coach claims Messi not in States to take it easy

Along with giving an update on Messi’s fitness levels, Martino also claimed that the superstar is not in the United States to relax. “What has not changed is his desire to continue competing and winning,” proclaimed the coach. “I think it shows a very salient trait Leo has as a football player. His perpetual desire to compete and win. I think that winning the World Cup took a great weight off his back.”

“But someone I admire a lot told me that he is coming to MLS carrying an empty suitcase but without all the pressure he had in Barcelona in 2010-2011 or the pressure of the national team. Now, I think I am going to find a very competitive version of him because he has the need to win wearing this shirt now, because he has not won here yet.”

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Messi debut as substitute is major boost for Inter Miami

Inter fans will hope that Messi can quickly help turn things around at the club. The MLS side has not won a match in over two months in league play. Currently, Inter Miami has the fewest points in the league. Nevertheless, the Leagues Cup and U.S. Open Cup provide a chance at a trophy or two this season. Friday’s matchup is set to start at 8 p.m. ET and will be available on MLS Season Pass and TUDN.

PHOTO: MLS Communications

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