Messi to MLS would be bigger than Pele at Cosmos, says Friedel –

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Jamaica Premier League
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Champions League
Champions League
Lionel Messi’s potential move to Inter Miami in MLS would be even more significant for US soccer than Pele playing for the New York Cosmos, former United States international Brad Friedel told Stats Perform.
MLS has long been considered a likely end-of-career destination for Messi, but the intensity of such links has ramped up considerably in recent days, with media reports suggesting David Beckham-backed Inter are increasingly confident of luring the Paris Saint-Germain forward to MLS as early as next year.
Beckham was of course seen as something of a pioneer when he made the switch to LA Galaxy in 2007, and stars such as Thierry Henry, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Kaka, Andrea Pirlo and Didier Drogba all followed over the next decade.
But before MLS, the North American Soccer League (NASL) had served a similar purpose for ageing superstars in the 1970s and 80s, with Brazil legend Pele proving the trendsetter back then when he joined the Cosmos – Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Gerd Muller, Eusebio, Bobby Moore and George Best all went on to feature in the NASL before it collapsed after the 1984 season.
For all the history US soccer has with the biggest names in the sport, Friedel thinks nothing that has gone before could compare with the impact Messi’s arrival would have.
“So, we had David Beckham over here, which was one of the best signings that MLS ever made for notoriety around the world,” he told Stats Perform.
“And in today’s day and age with social media, everyone’s sort of a journalist with their phones these days, and how quickly media gets around the world.
“[Messi to MLS] would be unlike anything anyone’s ever seen in this country, including when Pele was over here, just because of the way the media is.
“It would be incredible if Lionel Messi was playing in this league. The fans that he attracts, the global respect, how good he has been.
“If they can pull that off… I’m not generally [in favour of] the older player coming in [to MLS], but like [Giorgio] Chiellini and [Gareth] Bale were [signed] for a reason and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic was for a reason, then work out that if you can get Messi, get him over here.”
Although Messi’s PSG contract expires next year, Inter should not expect a free run at the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.
PSG are still reportedly confident of securing a contract extension, while officials from Messi’s former club Barcelona have spoken openly about their desire to bring him back to Camp Nou.
Marko Arnautovic claims Manchester United made several attempts to sign him in the last transfer window, but says he opted to remain at Bologna despite his family’s desire to return to England. 
Former West Ham and Stoke City forward Arnautovic was linked with a move to United as part of the recruitment drive for Erik ten Hag’s first season with the club.
The Red Devils reportedly considered a move for Arnautovic after Cristiano Ronaldo outlined his desire to leave Old Trafford, but the 33-year-old insists he is happy with his choice to remain in Italy.
“Manchester United tried to sign me several times and it was a difficult decision to stay in Italy, because my family wanted to return to England,” Arnautovic told Laola1 ahead of Austria’s friendly against Italy on Sunday.
“For me, it’s clear that the Red Devils remain at the top of the universe and Bologna, as a name, are not. 
“But that’s fine. Here everything is calm, you have time for yourself and no stress. This is only good for me.”
Arnautovic has scored eight goals in 13 Serie A appearances this season, a tally only bettered by Napoli’s Victor Osimhen (nine).
Wales captain Gareth Bale is right where he wants to be ahead of leading his country into their second ever World Cup campaign.
Rob Page’s team face the United States on Monday in what is Wales’ first World Cup match since a quarter-final loss to Brazil in 1958.
Brazil great Pele scored his first goal for the Selecao in that match, becoming the competition’s youngest goalscorer (17 years and 239 days) – a record that stands heading into the 2022 edition of the tournament.
Bale comes into the World Cup on the back of coming off the bench to net Los Angeles FC’s extra-time equaliser in the MLS Cup, which finished 3-3 against the Philadelphia Union, with LAFC winning on penalties.
After that match in October, the former Real Madrid forward revealed he was still not at 100 per cent fitness, though at a press conference in Doha on Sunday, Bale put any concerns over his condition to bed.
“I’m right where I want to be, I’m here,” he said. “It’s the night before the first game and I’m ready to go.
“We’ve all been training hard the last week, adapting to the heat, the time zones and we have no excuses now – we’ve put all the hard work in and now it’s game time.
“Hopefully we can step up and deliver what needs to be delivered.”
Bale is Wales’ record goalscorer in major international tournaments, having played a big part in his side’s run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 and the last 16 of Euro 2020, when he captained the team.
“It’s an incredible feeling, one as a kid you dream of, but to actually be in the team that achieves it is an honour to do it for our country,” Bale said of playing at a World Cup.
“It’s going to be a fun time for us, one we want to enjoy and have fun like we always do as a national team.
“We’re in our own little bubble here, but we get sent links and videos in our WhatsApp group of what’s going on back home.
“We can see the tensions building. They’re wearing their bucket hats more and the shirts are out. We can feel the love and we’re going to try to do them proud. We’re doing it for our country.
“Every World Cup [I’ve seen], there’s never been a Wales flag. For the youngsters now, to have Wales in the World Cup will be an incredible experience to have.”
Bale’s sentiment was echoed by manage Page, who said: “I’ve spent the last week with them. They’re ready, absolutely ready, I won’t need to fire them up.
“We’ve got a gameplan, we’ve done a lot of analysis. They’ve waited a long time for it. It’s been a difficult process to get here, with the emotions we had to manage in the Ukraine [play-off] game.
“I thought the lads showed true class on that day as well, showed they can manage emotions – it’ll be no different.”
Page also confirmed influential midfielder Joe Allen, a major fitness doubt ahead of the tournament, will play no part against the USA after failing to fully recover from a hamstring injury.
Antonio Rudiger has warned against overlooking Germany’s chances of emerging victorious at the World Cup in Qatar, declaring: “You can never count us out”.
Having won the 2014 World Cup, Germany mounted a dismal defence of the trophy four years ago as they crashed out in the group stages in Russia following defeats against Mexico and South Korea.
Germany also suffered a last-16 elimination against England at Euro 2020 – Joachim Low’s final match before being replaced by Hansi Flick – leading many onlookers to favour the likes of Brazil, Argentina and France for glory in Qatar.
While Rudiger acknowledges Germany’s recent form means Flick’s men may not favourites for the tournament, he believes they have the talent to spring a surprise. 
“Honestly, if we speak about favourites, we have to speak about form. Before the last international break, you look at teams like Brazil and France,” Rudiger told The Guardian.
“I think because of our current form, us maybe not so much, but we are a big nation and have a good team. You can never count us out. Anything can happen.
“We don’t need to be afraid of anyone. It’s football. If you’re really tight together it can be very helpful. We have to get the job done. 
“We have played many great games. Now it’s the big stage. I’m not worried. We have a fantastic group.”
Germany’s last competitive fixture saw them throw away a 2-0 lead in a thrilling 3-3 Nations League draw with England, and Rudiger says Die Mannschaft must improve defensively in Qatar.
“I watched that game from home,” Rudiger said, recalling September’s high-scoring draw at Wembley. “I think both teams were not at their best. We need to improve. 
“We need to manage the game better. If you’re winning 2-0, you cannot give it away in four minutes.”
Asked whether a lack of experience in Flick’s squad contributed to that result, Rudiger added: “Maybe a little bit. But the goals we conceded were a little bit too easy. 
“This has nothing to do with experience – it’s just a lack of focus. We are not robots. 
“We all make mistakes, but you try to avoid those easy ones where you lack concentration. That’s the pressure that comes with this high level. You cannot have this lack of focus.”
Germany begin their Group E campaign against Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Wednesday.
Nov 17, 2022 Football
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