·27 September 2023
·27 September 2023
Inter Miami head coach Gerardo 'Tata' Martino provided an update on Lionel Messi's fitness levels ahead of their US Open Cup final clash against Houston Dynamo, calling the situation "special."
The 36-year-old was forced off the field due to injury in the first half of Miami's 4-0 victory over Toronto FC, before being left out of the squad in the 1-1 draw with in-state rivals Orlando City. Martino later confirmed he suffered a setback to a previous injury, adding the player will not need surgery to move forward.
Messi played a crucial role in his side's Leagues Cup final triumph over Nashville SC in penalty kicks, but they might have to go for glory without their superstar forward this time.
"We will wait until tomorrow. Jordi is difficult but with Messi we will wait until tomorrow," Martino said on Tuesday.
The former Atlanta United boss explained that there would be virtually zero chance of Messi playing if there wasn't a trophy on the line.
"We understand the explanation and the desire to know, but we don't have an issue of wanting to be mysterious or anything like that. If it wasn't Messi, the media wouldn't be asking about him. Nothing has to do with an operation, so no, forget about that. We have to think about how long the player has to stop to play another match. If it's not a final, we're not taking any risks. This is a final and it could bring you a title," he added.
"It could take 90 or 120 minutes, but if it's another game we wouldn't risk it. We are not trying to be mysterious with Leo. I say this with knowledge because of my time with Atlanta. Weekly, there are reports of injuries and which players travel and don't travel. This is a special situation. And if Leo were not here, we would not be discussing this," the 60-year-old said. "This is part of football. We are talking about the best player in football, and I have to give an answer that could affect the structure of the rival team.
"Why should I give that information if I can keep it to myself? We understand the desire [for the supporters] to know, but we are not trying to be mysterious. We have a real situation."
Inter Miami later revealed Messi trained with the team, joining the squad after media left the grounds.