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Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami sign USMNT’s Julian Gressel, but what does move mean for 2024 season?

Lionel Messi's Inter Miami sign USMNT's Julian Gressel, but what does move mean for 2024 season?

Tata Martino’s team has added some depth with the two-time MLS Cup winner

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After falling short in their push for the playoffs last season, Tata Martino and Inter Miami are diligently bolstering the team to ensure there are ample resources for competing in league play, alongside Leagues Cup, and the Concacaf Champions Cup next season. On Tuesday, Herons secured the services of U.S. men’s national team player Julian Gressel in free agency after his contract with the Columbus Crew expired.

Gressel, who previously played under Martino at Atlanta United, can be deployed as a wingback, attacking midfielder, or winger, depending on Martino’s daily preferences. The duo previously lifted MLS Cup together, and Gressel added another MLS Cup with the Crew last season, and his addition will continue to contribute to the establishment of a winning culture in Fort Lauderdale.

With attack-minded players like Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba, it’s crucial to manage their minutes throughout the season to avoid a repeat of last season’s playoff miss. Alba and Messi suffered injuries, causing them to miss the crucial stretch run, during which Inter Miami only needed two wins over Charlotte FC to secure a playoff spot.

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In the absence of creative contributions while the duo was sidelined, goal-scoring opportunities dwindled. However, with the winter additions of Gressel and Luis Suarez, Martino now has options across the pitch and much more depth. Diego Gomez and Facundo Farias will embark on their first full seasons with Miami, and guys like Robert Taylor and Leonardo Campana aim to fortify Messi’s supporting cast.

The challenge lies in predicting how Inter Miami will line up, given Martino’s inclination to tinker with formations. It’s challenging to project the lineup for the season opener on Feb. 25 against the Los Angeles Galaxy. With more attackers added, there will be rotation and competition for places but the standard XI for the Herons will have a good mix of youth and experience.

Predicted lineup: Drake Callender; Jordi Alba, Tomas Aviles, Serhiy Kryvtsov, DeAndre Yedlin; Diego Gomez, Sergio Busquets, Benjamin Cremaschi; Facundo Farias, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi

Steps forward will need to be taken by the young players in Aviles, Gomez, Cremaschi, and Farias because it will be their performance that havw just as much of an impact on how many trophies Miami can win as Messi’s performance does. 

The Argentine can’t play in every game when the Herons are playing twice a week and logging more than 50 games per season. That’s also where players like Taylor and Gressel come in. Able to provide above average production at multiple positions, they can help make spots 12-16 better on Miami’s roster as those depth positions are what let the Herons down closing out the season. This vision will need to become a reality this coming season but the appropriate pieces are there.

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