In the latest in a week of notable quotes, Inter Miami manager Phil Neville confirmed that his club is the courting process of Lionel Messi. The club has been linked to moves for both Messi and Sergio Busquets when their contracts are up during the summer and its that interest that Neville confirmed in an exclusive interview with the Times ahead of the new MLS season.
"I'm not going to deny (it and say) there isn't truth in the speculation that we are interested in Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets," Neville said. "Since I joined Miami, I think we've been linked with Dani Alves, Robert Lewandowski, Willian, Cesc Fabregas, Luis Suarez... all of them you can rattle off."
He's not wrong and with David Beckham leading the way, Inter Miami have been a club that's been able to pull in star power like Gonzalo Higuain and Blase Matuidi. These links to Messi have been ones that won't go away either. PSG have been firm on the stance that they'd like to extend Messi's contract, but the longer that things go on without him putting pen to paper, the stronger the Miami links will grow.
Generally though, when a manager is asked on the record about negotiations or even interest in players under contract to another team they won't respond with confirmation of interest due to how it can impact ongoing negotiations and out of respect for the other clubs involved (not to mention the possibility of tampering, though with both Busquets and Messi being on expiring contracts that's not an issue in this case). But Neville didn't do that.
After already calling out the league on the playoff format while also suggesting that there should be promotion and relegation in the league in an interview with the Athletic, Neville's words are quickly piling up.
"We're six days, seven days out from the first game of the season, we don't know the playoff format. I think that's poor," Neville said in an exclusive with the Athletic. "When you're talking about professionalism, and 'elite,' I think when you're seven days out from the start of the season — we've had talks here, and one of our players asked one of the MLS guys the other day 'what's the playoff system' and they were like, 'We don't know.' And I'm like, 'That's not elite.' You're talking about differences between the U.K. and the U.S.? We talked about the intensity of the fans. (This is another) big difference."
Negotiating with stars on the global stage is tricky and confirming this interest could cause PSG to make Messi an offer that he can't refuse to make sure that they keep him. Considering that a signing would be monumental for Miami and the league, these are words that could prove to be costly down the line.