As Messi rumours swirl, an Argentine takes charge in Miami
PSG's Lionel Messi during the French League One football match between Auxerre and Paris Saint Germain, at the Abbe Deschamps stadium in Auxerre, central France, Sunday, May 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

MIAMI, United States, (AFP) – If Lionel Messi is, as some reports suggest, considering an offer to join Inter Miami then he may have noticed with interest that a fellow Argentine took charge of the Major League Soccer team on Thursday.

Struggling Miami sacked their English coach Phil Neville and his experienced American assistant Jason Kreis and promoted Javier Morales to take charge of the side as interim head coach.

There is now a distinctly Argentine feel to the club -- as well as Morales, goalkeeping coach Sebastian Saja played four times for the national side and eight years with Argentine club San Lorenzo.

Federico Higuain, the brother of former Argentina and Real Madrid forward Gonzalo, is the head coach of Inter's reserve team, assisted by compatriot Cristian Raul Ledesma.

There are several South American players in the squad including Argentine defender Franco Negri and forward Nicolas Stefanelli while the club's brightest young prospect, Miami-born Benjamin Cremaschi, was called up to an Argentina Under-20 camp in December.

It may, of course, be entirely coincidental that just as Messi runs out of contract with Paris St Germain and amid reports that he has an offer from Miami as well as lucrative option in Saudi Arabia, Miami have placed an Argentine in charge of the team.

But the idea that the 35-year-old Messi might move to the South Florida sunshine, ahead of a Copa America final bow, in the United States in 2024, has not been discouraged by either the club or by Major League Soccer itself -- neither of whom have ever distanced themselves from the reports.

It would, of course, require an unprecedented investment to lure the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner to MLS but the club hope the chance to end his career with a lucrative deal in a heavily Spanish speaking community proves tempting.

And it was noticable that of Neville's two assistants, it was not Kreis, who as a coach who was MLS Cup winner at Real Salt Lake before spells with New York City and Orlando, but the much less experienced Morales, a player under Kreis in Salt Lake, who was given the interim job.

Whatever the reasoning behind that decision, Morales certainly has a tough task to turn Miami's season around.

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