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The ‘Messi Effect’: Shaping Inter Miami’s Next Generation

The atmosphere at the Florida Blue Training Center recently radiated positivity and excitement. Lionel Messi, proudly clutching his record-breaking eighth Ballon d’Or trophy, was met by a sea of elated Inter Miami CF Academy players. They eagerly awaited the chance to high-five, hug, and shake hands with the Argentine superstar, who had become a symbol of excellence for both seasoned professionals and aspiring talent.

Victor Pastora, the academy director at Inter Miami, couldn’t help but be impressed. “It was an incredible gesture, a clear reflection of the way he carries himself every day at the club,” he expressed. “As extraordinary as he is, the gesture didn’t surprise us because he is very accessible. He comes almost every afternoon to watch them in training. It’s just the way he is.”

Even though Messi’s appearances at the training facility have become more frequent, the academy players, their parents, and the staff continue to marvel at the unparalleled access they now have to the greatest football player of all time. Pastora observed, “As normal as he acts and as nice as he is, it’s still a big shock for the players and everyone here that he’s there. It was his initiative to come and share with the academy players. He knows he inspires and he knows the effect he has on the kids.”

As the Inter Miami community gathers to celebrate “Noche d’Or” at DRV PNK Stadium, which includes a friendly match against New York City FC, the “Messi Effect” is palpable. This phenomenon, which has swept across MLS and North American soccer, is poised to leave a lasting impact on academy players. They now have a golden opportunity to witness how the iconic No. 10 operates on and off the field.

The Academy Project

In the four years since their introduction to MLS, Inter Miami has rapidly developed academy players who have signed homegrown contracts and now share the pitch with Messi. Players like Benjamin Cremaschi, David Ruíz, Noah Allen, and others serve as living proof that the academy system is working. Use the bookmaker to place bets on MLS matches at the most favorable odds.

Federico Higuaín, the former Columbus Crew and Inter Miami star who now coaches the Herons’ MLS NEXT Pro side emphasized the key aspects required for player development. “You have to focus on key aspects like physical preparation, tactical fundamentals, technical improvement, and the mentality to rise above difficult situations,” he stated. “As the player develops these key aspects, he will have a better chance to take the corresponding steps to get to the first team.”

The caliber of players currently in the first team is enough motivation for academy players to push themselves to stand out. It’s not just Messi but also the presence of stars like Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. Homegrown talents in the first team are clear examples of the academy system’s success. Higuaín elaborated, “Our process is to form players from the academy in a way that they don’t regress and stay at the level they reach.”

Victor Pastora is confident that more players of such caliber are on the horizon. He mentioned, “We currently have about eight players with the US [youth] national teams, and we have another 15 players in other national teams in Concacaf.” Pastora, who joined Inter Miami long before Messi’s arrival, emphasized their approach to player development, which encompasses personal and football growth. “Our main goal is to develop professional people first to develop professional players. We are focused on our culture and our environment, making sure they are polite, respectful, and disciplined.”

The Perfect Guide

Lionel Messi’s integration into the Inter Miami ecosystem has provided Pastora and Higuaín with the perfect example for their players to emulate. Pastora marveled, “It’s incredible because it’s the maximum expression inside and outside the field of what a professional should be like.” He described Messi as exceptionally competitive, passionate, committed, confident, and someone who truly enjoys the game.

Higuaín believes that having Messi in close proximity offers endless teaching opportunities, especially for those in attacking positions. Watching Messi’s goal in their historic Leagues Cup Final victory over Nashville SC, Higuaín urged his players, particularly the number 10 position players, to study and understand how to create and finish plays. Messi’s influence extends not only on the field but also off it, setting the standard for professionalism and excellence.

As Messi’s MLS journey unfolds, Inter Miami will continue to benefit from his ability to create unforgettable moments. Higuaín summed it up, saying, “Everything has changed, not only for our club but the entire league. For us, Messi represents perfection both on and off the field. He provides educators with the opportunity to showcase the best soccer has to offer and helps players understand what it takes to play professionally.”