Inter Miami will travel over 25,000 miles to play seven friendlies in five countries during the preseason, but coach Gerardo Martino is optimistic they can withstand the effort.
Miami will return to training this weekend and will only be in Fort Lauderdale for a week before embarking on a trip that will take them to El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, and Japan.
With Messi’s arrival, as well as former Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, and, most recently, Luis Suarez, such friendly games have become a big money source for the club.
However, the schedule has generated fears that Miami may overdo games and travel before the season begins on February 21.
“We understand both the business and the sports sides, and we try to satisfy both without exceeding one or the other,” Martino told reporters on Thursday.
“We have to balance how much each player participates,” he said.
The pressure is definitely on Martino to play as much Messi as possible, but the club’s experience last season serves as a caution.
Miami sparkled brightly early after Messi’s debut, winning the mid-season Leagues Cup, only to fade fast due to injuries to the Argentine and Spaniard Alba.
With Messi watching from the stands for most of the season, the club was unable to make a late push into the playoffs.
Busquets believes the team must strike a balance between commercial and football activity.
“It’s looking at the balance of the sporting side and the growth of this club and the revenues that benefit the business side,” he went on to say.
“We will also compete against great teams, which will help us prepare to compete at a high level.” “When it comes to time changes and long trips, we need to be prepared and physically fit, which will help us throughout the season,” he stated.
Seven days after returning to training, Miami will face the El Salvador national team in San Salvador on January 19.
Following a game against FC Dallas in Texas, the club will travel to Saudi Arabia to face Al Hilal on January 29 before facing Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr.
Three days later, on February 4, Miami will play an All-Star squad in Hong Kong before flying to Tokyo for a friendly with J-League club Vissel Kobe.
The team’s preseason concludes on February 15 with a home encounter versus Messi’s childhood club, Newell’s Old Boys.