Lionel Messi, 36, scored a stunning free-kick winner in stoppage time in his debut for Inter Miami in Major League Soccer (MLS) to earn the club’s captain’s armband.
According to ESPN on Friday, Inter Miami head coach Gerardo Martino said he will continue to give Messi the captaincy.
Messi, who signed a two-year contract with Inter Miami on Nov. 15, made a perfect debut against Cruz Azul (Mexico) in the first leg of the 2023 League Cup Group J on Nov. 22.
He earned the captain’s armband when he took the field as a substitute in the ninth minute of the second half with a 1-0 lead. He made a name for himself in the 49th minute of the second leg when he scored the winning free kick with the score tied 1-1.
“Yes, he was our captain in the last game,” Martino said when asked if he would continue to give Messi the captaincy.
Messi is no stranger to the armband, having captained Argentina to victory at the World Cup in Qatar.
The Brazilian midfielder was Inter’s captain this season, but suffered a long-term injury in mid-March, and more recently, U.S. international defender DeAndre Yedlin has been the interim captain.
Commenting on Messi’s debut performance, Martino said: “It’s a routine thing for him. It’s normal for him to do something that’s not normal.”
The tactician made it clear that he intends to use Messi more in the future. Inter Miami will play Atlanta United in the second leg of their League Cup group stage on June 26.
“Messi and Sergio Busquets will play longer in the future. It’s only their second game,” he said.
Meanwhile, Messi, who has played for Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, was reportedly approached by Saudi Arabian clubs, but turned them down in favor of Inter Miami.
While the specific terms of Messi’s contract have not been announced, Inter Miami president Jorge Mas had previously said that 고스톱 “Messi’s salary could be up to $60 million (approximately $764 million).”