Martino: Inter Miami taking cautious approach with Messi’s injury

Lionel Messi had a goal and an assist before leaving the game due to a leg injury as Inter Miami CF beat Nashville SC 3-1 in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions Cup round-of-16 matchup on Wednesday night.

Inter Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said after the game that Messi will likely miss Saturday’s MLS match at D.C. United while the team takes a cautious approach to the superstar’s injury.

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“I don’t want to take any risks but I imagine that he won’t be available for Saturday’s game,” Martino said. “That’s the only thing I can say about it now. We’ll have some tests soon and we’ll see how he feels.”

Messi, who had rested during last Sunday’s 3-2 loss to CF Montréal, didn’t appear to be injured as he walked off the field to be replaced by Robert Taylor.

“Leo has a muscle overload in his right leg. We don’t want to take any kind of risk with him,” Martino added. “We tried to see if he could last a little longer after halftime, but it was bothering him, so we preferred to take him out the game.”

Before being substituted in the 50th minute, the earliest that Messi has been subbed off in the second half of a match in his career, the Argentina forward assisted Luis Suárez in the 8th minute for the first Miami goal and scored his fifth goal of the season to put his team 2-0 ahead.

“We knew when the season started that Messi was not going to play all games,” Martino said. “If he’s not playing or we have to replace him, for me it’s not just missing out any other player, he’s the best player of all time.”

Meanwhile, Suarez is hoping to make the most of his partnership with Messi once again. The pair played together or six years at Barcelona, forming a successful attacking partnership that helped the side to four LaLiga titles, a Champions League and a FIFA Club World Cup crown between 2014 and 2020.

“We spent many years playing together in Barcelona and it is nice to be back together,” Suarez said.

“We know each other too well, we almost always know where the other is positioned almost by heart and we try to transfer that for the benefit of Inter Miami.

“We are enjoying this possibility of playing together again, enjoying a football that is new for me and trying to make people enjoy it. We have made a lot of sacrifice over the last 20 years and we deserve to enjoy these last few years of our career a little.”

Asked about Messi’s injury, Suarez said: “He told me that he had a little discomfort, but it will depend on how he evolves in the next few hours.”

After advancing with a 5-3 aggregate score, Miami will face the winner of the series between Monterrey and FC Cincinnati in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup on April 2.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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