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Lionel Messi: Argentina striker ‘motivated’ and ‘feels good’, says Inter Miami manager Gerardo Martino after MLS win

Lionel Messi playing football for Inter Miami

Inter Miami manager Gerardo Martino says he is “happy” with Lionel Messi’s fitness and the MLS side’s ability to share goalscoring responsibilities following their season-opening 2-0 win against Real Salt Lake.

Messi and new signing Luis Suarez started in attack and might have been expected to continue their prolific partnership from their time together at Barcelona – but both turned providers, with the Argentina captain setting up Robert Taylor’s first-half opener and the Uruguay forward laying on Diego Gomez’s late second.

“This is what should happen with a team,” said Martino. “The normal thing would be for Luis and Leo to be the ones, even Leo Campana.

“They are the ones most associated with goals. But their assists, and Robert and Diego scoring, is always something positive. When there is a part of the team, whether it is defensive or attacking, which depends exclusively on one player, it [is not ideal], especially because it gives the opponents a focus.”

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Messi, who was directly involved in 16 goals in 14 appearances after joining Inter last season, is Barca’s record scorer, while Suarez is third on the list of the Spanish giants’ all-time marksmen.

The World Cup winner played throughout the home win, with Suarez replaced by Ecuador forward Campana during second-half added time.

Inter also have the likes of former Barca stars Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets among their ranks, leading to expectations that they will improve considerably on their 14th-placed finish in last season’s Eastern Conference.

There had been concerns over 36-year-old Messi’s fitness because of the limited role he played in Inter’s pre-season matches, including an inflamed adductor which kept him from making an appearance in Hong Kong earlier this month.

“It makes me happy because obviously he is on good form, he is motivated,” said Martino. “But apart from that that, he feels good physically.”

Messi and Suarez gaining ‘knowledge’

Martino emphasised the importance of training sessions in helping Messi and Suarez to re-establish the understanding they formed at Barcelona, where they won La Liga four times together and the 2014/15 Uefa Champions League.

“It wasn’t just playing and resting, as happened on the tour,” said the coach. “We had several training sessions before the start of the league season.

“Sometimes that is needed. Each training session produces greater knowledge.”

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