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MLS

Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino reveals details about Lionel Messi’s mentality before moving to MLS and Inter Miami

The coach opened up on the personality of the World Cup winner, giving a curious insight into the elite mindset of the forward.

Tata Martino confirma titularidad de Messi ante LAFC
Vincent CarchiettaUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Inter Miami boss Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino gave an interview ahead of yet another final for the club in the club’s short history. The MLS side are set to face Houston Dynamo in the final of the US Open Cup 2023 and Martino spoke before the clash, opening up on personal moments shared with Argentine star, Lionel Messi.

Through official channels, Telemundo Deportes, one of the broadcasters for the event, showed some key moments of the chat in which the coach mentioned how the number ‘10′ was welcomed after his World Cup triumph in Qatar at the 2022 World Cup.

‘It’s difficult for players to stop competing’

“Before travelling”, Martino said on Messi’s hunger for silverware, “when [we] had [our futures] confirmed, I went to see him in Rosario (Argentina) and we were talking for a while... It’s very difficult for a player at a high level to stop and say “I am not going to compete anymore”, I think they’re so intelligent that they if they didn’t want to compete then they’d say it. If I had any doubts they were soon gone. My talk [with Messi] sorted out the thoughts I had. With Jordi [Alba] and Sergio [Busquets], I knew something good could happen.”

The ex-Barcelona coach was alongisde Maxi Rodríguez, a hugely iconic player in Argentina, and he used him as an example to highlight Messi’s way of thinking: “You [players] are used to competing from a young age, at a high level where you’re not allowed to stand still in a season given the different competitions... There are teams that put together a strong squad to compete, if there is nothing left to play for, you’re going to have problems.

Inter Miami drew with Orlando in the Florida Derby.
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Inter Miami drew with Orlando in the Florida Derby.Cory KnowltonUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Martino comments on elite mentality

Using Maxi as an example, Martino gave further details on the mentality of players at the highest level, saying that in his day, perhaps that way of doing things was not the same as it is now, with players striving to keep themselves at the elite level for as long as possible, despite which club or league they belong to.

Such a mention of an elite mentality comes after Messi’s move to Miami was criticised by some for saying that he no longer plays at the top level - this is clearly an opinion Martino does not share: “you compete in a different way, and it’s clear that’s going to change. As long as you are on the pitch you are going to compete.”