Seven former Lionel Messi teammates who could follow star to Inter Miami and MLS

Ryan Baldi
Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Thiago Alcantara

After Alba, Busquets and Suarez, who else could Messi reunite with in Miami?

Shortly after it was announced that Lionel Messi had signed for Inter Miami last year, the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner was joined by former Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.

The trio rekindled the on-field understanding they’d honed at the Camp Nou as they led the club co-owned by David Beckham to a first major trophy in the Leagues Cup.

Then Luis Suarez, another former Barcelona star, joined ahead of the 2024 season and the legendary Uruguayan striker has already impressed Stateside with crucial goals and assists.

Here are seven more former Messi team-mates who fit the bill for an MLS reunion with the Argentinian icon.

Neymar

The Brazilian superstar has already left European football to ply his trade in the Saudi Pro League.

And so far Neymar’s move to the Middle East has fallen drastically short of expectations, with the former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain forward managing just one goal in five appearances for Al-Hilal before a ruptured ACL brought a premature end to his debut season.

Lionel Messi's teammates with the most goal combinations

Neymar is reportedly earning €150 million a year in Saudi Arabia, a salary even the largest Designated Player deals in MLS could not come close to matching.

But if the 32-year-old wants to reignite his career in a more favourable footballing situation, reuniting the ‘MSN’ trio that delivered a Treble for Barcelona in 2015 would have clear appeal.

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Antoine Griezmann

An avid fan of the traditional American sports, Griezmann has spoken openly and often about his desire to someday play in MLS.

He has even previously hinted that Miami would be among his prime potential locations for a Stateside switch, with Los Angeles his other preferred destination.

When Messi and Griezmann played together at Barcelona between 2019 and 2021, the pair were an awkward tactical fit, with both left-footers preferring to operate from the right and cut inside.

But recent seasons have seen the 33-year-old Frenchman adapt his game and rejuvenate his career back with Atletico Madrid by taking on a slightly deeper remit. Griezmann has often applied his impressive work ethic and crisp passing skills to drop into midfield, as he did with France at the last World Cup.

A similar role in Miami could see Griezmann link up with Messi to greater effect than their previous attempt at the Camp Nou.

Ivan Rakitic

Another member of Barcelona’s 2015 Treble winners now playing in Saudi Arabia, Ivan Rakitic left Sevilla for Al-Shabab in January.

And despite having joined so recently, the 36-year-old Croatian has already matched Neymar for appearances and goals in the Saudi Pro League.

The veteran midfielder proved in his second spell with Sevilla that he still has the ability to perform at a high competitive level. The prospect of partnering him once again with Busquets, this time with gifted 21-year-old prospect Federico Redondo in the Xavi role, could see Inter Miami dominate in North America the way Barca did in Europe nine years ago.

Thiago Alcantara

Four years Rakitic’s junior, Thiago Alcantara would be an even more exciting signing for Inter Miami and MLS.

The 32-year-old was a key figure at Anfield in an FA Cup triumph and a run to the Champions League final in his first two seasons after joining Liverpool from Bayern Munich in September 2020.

But the former Spain playmaker has been hampered by injuries more recently, limiting him to just 14 Premier League starts last season and only a single appearance from the bench this term.

Thiago will be out of contract this summer and a new deal with Liverpool looks unlikely at this stage. He is an obvious candidate to be the next European star to cross the Atlantic.

Pedro

Now 36, Pedro is still going strong in one of Europe’s major leagues, having signed for Lazio in 2021.

The 2010 World Cup winner started 17 Serie A games last season, but the current campaign has seen him utilised more as an impact substitute, with just five starts and 22 appearances off the bench.

Another player out of contract this summer, if Pedro wants one last starting gig before retirement, it’s difficult to imagine a more attractive option than joining up with Messi and Suarez.

Clement Lenglet

Aston Villa defender Clement Lenglet

Aston Villa defender Clement Lenglet

Inter Miami have suffered such misfortune with injuries this season that at times Busquets has had to line up at centre-back.

If the Herons want to shore up their backline with a player of vast experience who still has prime years remaining, Clement Lenglet would be another former Barcelona man worth considering.

The 28-year-old Frenchman is currently on loan from Barcelona at Aston Villa, having spent last season on loan with Tottenham. Barca were said be disappointed with how little Lenglet was featuring for Unai Emery’s side over the first half of the 2023-24 season and considered recalling him.

But injuries to teammates afforded Lenglet starting opportunities over the winter period and he has since established himself in the Villa backline.

His Barcelona contract runs until the summer of 2026, but the Catalan side are believed to be keen to find a buyer for the former Sevilla defender, with interest from Serie A. As such, Lenglet would be a difficult target for MLS and Miami, but Messi’s pulling power should not be underestimated.

Alexis Sanchez

Like his former Camp Nou colleague Pedro, Alexis Sanchez has found himself more of a bit-part player in Serie A this season that he has been in previous campaigns.

The 35-year-old Chilean attacker was a key player in Inter Milan’s 2021 title triumph. He re-joined the club from Marseille last summer, but he has made just four starts in the league, firmly behind Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram in the pecking order of forwards at Simone Inzaghi’s disposal.

Sanchez will be a free agent this summer. The former Arsenal and Manchester United star has been linked with a return to River Plate and interest from Saudi Arabia, but his experience, versatility and tenacious style of play would make him a fine fit for an MLS swansong.

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