Meet Lionel Messi's new Inter Miami team-mates as he prepares for MLS

  /  autty

So, after Barcelona fans pined for an emotional return and emissaries in Saudi Arabia were convinced money could tempt him to the kingdom, Lionel Messi is heading for Florida.

The 35-year-old confirmed on Wednesday that he will be moving to Inter Miami in a deal that reportedly includes an option for the Argentine to become a part-owner of the MLS side.

In an interview with Mundo Deportivo he said: 'I'm not going back to Barca, I'm going to Inter Miami.'

Mail Sport understands that Messi, who won four Champions League titles with Barcelona and scored 672 goals in 778 games for the club, will be offered a lucrative contract with the MLS club, that could include deals with adidas.

ESPN are also reporting that his deal with the American side includes an option that could see him become a part-owner of the football club and a slice of the subscriber revenues from Apple TV's MLS Season Pass.

But all eyes now are on Inter Miami and the major coup pulled off by David Beckham and the rest of the ownership group.

With that in mind, Mail Sport takes a look at all of his new team-mates...


Drake Callender (USA)

Age: 25

In April of this year Callender earned his first USMNT call-up, a reward for his hard work in establishing himself as a regular goalkeeper in MLS.

He was a finalist for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2022 and he is viewed as an integral part of the team for now, and for the future.

Callender played NCAA Division I football at the University of California, Berkeley.

CJ dos Santos (USA)

Age: 22

Picked up from Benfica a year ago, Dos Santos is a really gifted young goalkeeper.

The Philadelphia native is pushing for regular minutes behind Callender but is expected to have a long future in the game.

Was once a target for Burnley, who won promotion to the Premier League in this past season.

Nick Marsman (Netherlands)

Age: 32

Married to former Miss Netherlands Nathalie Den Dekker, Marsden could be said to be winning on and off the pitch.

The Dutch shot-stopper joined from Feyenoord, where he appeared in the UEFA Europa League, but he risked the wrath of his bosses in Miami when he questioned if the club was actually ready to welcome a player with as big a status as Messi.

Speaking to ESPN, Marsman said: 'I personally think that this club is not ready for Messi's arrival.

'We have a temporary stadium, people can just walk on the pitch, there are no gates. We also leave for the stadium without security. I think they aren't ready.'

Cheer up, Nick!

Cole Jensen (USA)

Age: 22

Down the pecking order but Jensen, who wears No 99, is a valuable member of the goalkeeping unit.

He was a high school star as a senior at Lewis Central, where he played 1,735 minutes in goal, making 167 saves and only conceding 10 goals.

When he graduated from Lewis Central he held the career and single-season shutout records and they have since chosen to retire his No 0 jersey.

Still waiting to make his mark on MLS.


DeAndre Yedlin (USA)

Age: 29

One of the most well-known names in Inter Miami's squad is former Premier League star Yedlin.

The former Tottenham, Sunderland and Newcastle United full-back is a full USA international and brings star power to a squad brimming with rising stars.

Yedlin, who is part of the ownership group of USL Championship club San Diego Loyal SC, plays an integral role as a leader of the dressing room.

Christopher McVey (Sweden)

Age: 26

Swedish right back McVey joined Inter Miami in January 2022 having previously played for IF Elfsborg and Dalkurd in his homeland.

He can also play at centre back and offers much-needed versatility to contend with injuries.

McVey holds an American passport and so crucially doesn't take up an international player spot.

Harvey Neville (Republic of Ireland)

Age: 20

Son of former manager Phil, Neville is having to regroup having seen his dad axed by the club.

The youngster should not be fazed by Messi's arrival having spent his youth-team days at Man United, Man City and Valencia, where he has been surrounded by elite stars.

It has been far from straightforward for Neville having been booed by his own fans this season and he will hope attention on Messi can allow him to get his head down and take the narrative away from the Neville name.

Ian Fray (USA)

Age: 20

Hailing out of Coconut Creek, Florida, academy starlet Fray comes from a footballing family with his sister Marlee representing Jamaica's national team.

Little is known about Fray but he was a star in Inter Miami's academy and there are high hopes for him behind the scenes.

Since being promoted to the first team he has been blighted by injuries.

Serhiy Kryvtsov (Ukraine)

Age: 32

An elder statesman in Miami's ranks, Kryvtsov headed to MLS after 12 years with UEFA Champions League regulars Shakhtar Donetsk.

Kryvtsov made an immediate impact by scoring on his debut against Montreal and he brings tons of experience having played for Ukraine's national team in the Nations League and European Championships.

Fearing safety for his family as war rages on in Ukraine, Kryvtsov is happier to provide security for his wife and three children in Florida and choosing to leave his native country.

Kamal Miller (Canada)

Age: 26

Canadian international centre back Miller arrived in a trade from Montreal in April and represented a real coup for Inter Miami.

The 26-year-old MLS All Star defender represented Canada at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and is viewed as one of the best defenders in MLS.

Miller, who attended Syracuse University, considers Brazil icon Ronaldinho as one of his all-time favourite players.

Noah Allen (USA)

Age: 19

Academy graduate Allen is on the fringes of the first team but should be content biding his time as he remains highly thought of.

He made eight first team appearances in 2022, showing to management that he can handle the physicality of MLS.

Inter Miami II feels like where his opportunities will come this season but the teenager, who has shown a comfort in playing out from the back, has to be ready to take chances when they present themselves.

Franco Negri (Argentina)

Age: 28

From one Argentine to another, Negri will be a valuable source for Messi as he looks to bed in in MLS.

The left back, who hails from San Martin, Argentina, penned a two-year deal with Inter Miami back in January.

Much like Messi he has been on the books at Newell's Old Boys and on paper looks set to strike up a particularly close bond with the new recruit.

Ryan Sailor (USA)

Age: 24

The defender out of Colorado spent five years at the University of Washington before moving to join Inter Miami.

Picked ninth overall in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, Sailor is a player that is flying below the radar somewhat among a star-studded cast in Florida.

In his college recruitment file he described his game as follows: 'I believe that my best traits are my ability to play with my head, my leaping ability, my leadership, my communication, and my intelligence for the game.

'I have great field vision and I am very good at positioning the other players around me to maximise our defensive strengths. I feel that I am a very fundamentally sound player who makes smart plays without trying to be flashy and that I am a great one-on-one defender.'


Dixon Arroyo (Ecuador)

Age: 31

Ecuadorian defensive midfielder Arroyo arrived back in April following a crippling injury to Gregore.

Under contract until the end of the 2023 season - with the option of extending for 2024 - he has pitched up in Florida as a short-term fix.

He spent his entire career in Ecuador before joining Inter Miami on a free transfer after from Ecuadorian top-flight side Emelec, where he was captain.

Jean Mota (Brazil)

Age: 29

Brazilian midfielder Mota suffered a ligament injury back in April against Columbus Crew and is set to be out for as long as six months in a major blow to Inter Miami.

The attacking midfielder, who originates from Sao Paulo, wears Inter Miami's No 7 jersey and brings a wealth of experience in a side that is trying to blend veteran leaders with up-and-coming youngsters.

Prior to heading to MLS he spent his career in the top flight in Brazil and has valuable experience in the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana on his CV.

Victor Ulloa (Mexico)

Age: 31

Mexican-American Ulloa is a product of FC Dallas' Academy and was acquired in a trade with FC Cincinnati ahead of Inter Miami's maiden campaign.

The defensive midfielder, who grew up in Texas, has two sons - Luca and Nico - with wife Jennifer Ulloa and he is a big family man.

Robert Taylor (Finland)

Age: 28

The Finnish star, who has an English dad, is one of the brightest sparks in Inter Miami's ranks, known in Florida for his ability to produce moments of real magic.

As a youth player living in England he spent a bit of time playing Sunday League in Chesterfield, before having spells with Nottingham Forest, Lincoln City, Boston Town and Barnet, where he played under Edgar Davids, before returning to Finland to play for JJK.

Now thriving as one of the more senior players in this Inter Miami dressing room, Taylor should thrive with the guidance of someone as accomplished of Messi walking through the door.

Rodolfo Pizarro (Mexico)

Age: 29

Mexican ace Pizarro is an attacking midfielder who actually started off as a right back in his youth days back in Mexico.

Pizarro spent the 2022 season on loan with Monterrey in Liga MX but is now back with Inter Miami and he is eager to make his mark.

He famously faced the ire of Hristo Stoichkov, then working as a pundit, after one particularly poor performance for Monterrey last year.

Gregore (Brazil)

Age: 29

The Inter Miami captain is still coming to terms with being ruled out for six months with a foot injury back in March - but his role in bedding in any new player -regardless of their stature - is crucial.

The central midfielder has been a mainstay in the side since arriving from Brazilian top-flight side Esporte Clube Bahia in 2021 and former manager Phil Neville called him the 'heart and soul of our football club'.

Edison Azcona (Dominican Republic)

Age: 19

Another academy product to make the grade, Azcona is biding his time to make his mark on Inter Miami's first team.

Captain of the Dominican Republic's side at the U20 World Cup, Azcona made history as his country's first-ever player to score at any FIFA World Cup tournament, after he scored a penalty in a 2-1 defeat to Nigeria.

Azcona was a sporty kid who tried his hand at baseball, basketball and taekwondo - where he has a double-degree black belt - before settling on football.

He made his professional debut aged 17 and controlled his first pass from former Juventus and PSG and Juventus star Blaise Matuidi. He has felt at home ever since.

Benjamin Cremaschi (Argentina)

Age: 18

Cremaschi was born in the US but is of Argentine heritage and the arrival of Messi will come as a dream come true for the teenage superstar.

He has previously likened his box-to-box style to Argentina international Rodrigo de Paul.

The big question is whether he will be able to keep hold of the No 30 shirt long term.

It was a number Messi wore when he started out at Argentina and again chose to wear when he signed for PSG.

Cremaschi currently dons the number and so a quiet conversation may be had with his new incoming team-mate about vacating it when the time allows.

David Ruiz (Honduras)

Age: 19

Little did Ruiz know when he posted a picture shaking Messi's hand last year that they would soon be becoming team-mates.

'First of all, I just want to thank God for this amazing opportunity it's a dream come true words can't explain what I'm feeling,' he wrote in the caption.

'I'm just very grateful that I got to play alongside my idols and got to meet the best player in history.'

Plenty is expected of the Honduran-American midfielder, who was born in Miami, after he was elevated into the first team from their academy.


Leonardo Campana Romero (Ecuador)

Age: 22

Campana, once on the books of Wolverhampton Wanderers, originally headed to Inter Miami on loan before penning terms on a permanent switch.

The 6ft2' forward is a star of this side and will be a valuable asset alongside Messi in the front line.

Campana enjoyed a breakout campaign last season in which he bagged 11 goals and two assists in 26 appearances.

He originates from an Ecuadorian family with a rich sporting history, with his dad, Pablo, a former professional tennis player that was a one-time Olympian in 1996. Pablo is now a prominent politician in Ecuador.

His grandfather, Isidro, was also the president of Barcelona Sporting Club for 15 years, the major side in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Corentin Jean (France)

Age: 27

Nicknamed Coco, the Frenchman was seen as a real coup when he touched down in Miami in 2022.

Jean, who was seen as something of a wonderkid while at Troyes, has seen his career take him round a multitude of clubs, including Monaco, before Inter Miami paid a transfer fee to Lens to get him.

One of the big selling points to Jean was that it is something of a quieter life for a footballer in Miami, compared to in France.

He told SoFoot last year: 'The club may be chaired by David Beckham, but you don't have this madness of cameras as one might think. It's much quieter than in France.

'In Lens, I had from time to time autograph sessions in Lens or sponsor days. Here it is rare.'

Something tells us that tranquility will vanish with the arrival of Messi...

Josef Martínez (Venezuela)

Age: 30

Martinez is one of the most accomplished strikers in MLS history. Fact.

Back in 2018, the Venezuelan star swept the board by becoming the most decorated single-season player in MLS history.

That year he won League MVP, All-Star Game MVP, the Golden Boot, and MLS Cup Final MVP.

Martinez put pen to paper on a deal with Inter Miami in January 2023, joining from Atlanta United, where he scored 111 goals from 158 games.

He's close friends with Newcastle United star Miguel Almiron.

Robbie Robinson (USA)

Age: 24

The South Carolina native is a big fan of European football and has been taking bits from the games of Kylian Mbappe, Philippe Coutinho and Cristiano Ronaldo to improve as a striker.

Robinson was Inter Miami's first ever draft pick when he was selected first overall in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft.

He is currently agonising over whether to represent Chile or USMNT at international level.

Nicolás Stefanelli (Argentina)

Age: 28

Another Argentine that can help Messi bed in.

Stefanelli is a versatile forward who joined Inter Miami in January 2023 from Swedish top flight side AIK Fotboll.

There is an Argentine feel running through the very fabric of the club now with Stefanelli joining interim manager Javier Morales, goalkeeping coach Sebastian Saja, as well as team-mates Negri and Cremaschi.

Felipe Valencia (Colombia)

Age: 18

Valencia joined Inter Miami back in 2021 as their first-ever homegrown player but is finding first team opportunities hard to come by - and Messi's imminent arrival only blocks that path even more.

He holds the record for being the youngest scorer at any level of the United States League (USL) when he netted for Inter Miami CF II in August 2020 at just 15 years, five months and 18 days, breaking the record previously held by Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies.

Shanyder Borgelin (Haiti)

Age: 21

The 6ft4' Haitian-American striker is about to take his game up a notch with Messi walking through the door.

He comes from a history-making family. Borgelin's dad, Samson, became the first Haitian-American mayor of North Lauderdale in November last year. Then, Borgelin became the first Haitian-American first team player in Inter Miami's short history.

Borgelin, who dabbled in basketball as a kid, described his game as: 'I'm a complex player. I'm 6'4' and I'm more like a target player, but I'm also someone who likes to get involved.

'I like having the ball at my feet as well, but my main thing is that I love scoring goals. I love the feeling of the ball hitting the back of the net and being in positions to help my team-mates. I'm a scorer.'

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