Inter Miami head coach Gerardo Martino has played down rumours that Lionel Messi could make a return to Barcelona on loan.
Messi has become one of the biggest stars of Major League Soccer since his arrival at Miami in the summer. The Argentina legend had left Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent to leave European football behind and embark on a new journey across the Atlantic.
However, there have been rumours that Messi could return to one of his former clubs while the MLS off-season runs. Once the post-season is completed, the US-based league will not return until the end of February next yea
According to Spanish news outlet Sport, Barcelona are planning to submit a loan offer to sign Messi while the MLS season is on hiatus. The report states that the La Liga club plans to give Messi a send-off by submitting the offer in January, although Miami themselves are said to have not given the idea any thought at this stage.
Martino was asked about the rumours that Messi could return to Spain during the MLS off-season on a loan basis. The Miami boss played down the speculation and insisted he had no knowledge of the rumours.
“Is he going for fun? Maybe he’s going to visit Barcelona,” said Martino, in Spanish, during his post-game press conference on Saturday. “Other than that, I don’t know anything else about it.”
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Since signing for Miami, Messi has scored 11 goals in 13 appearances for his new club. Ten of those goals came in the Leagues Cup, and the 36-year-old has spent the majority of the games he would have hoped to play in the MLS on the sidelines through injury.
Messi, who was recently nominated for the MLS MVP award, had been sidelined with a muscle injury in recent weeks but made his return to the pitch on Saturday.
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The forward played 35 minutes in a 1-0 loss to FC Cincinnati, appearing off the bench in the second half but could not help his team avoid defeat at the DRV PNK Stadium.
Miami now have just two games remaining this season in the MLS, which is a home-and-away double-header against Charlotte later this month. Miami can no longer reach the play-offs this season, meaning Messi’s time in Flordia for the 2023 season will come to an end in a couple of weeks.