'Not going to be easy for him...': Rooney warns Messi ahead of MLS debut | Football News - Hindustan Times

'It's not going to be easy for him... league's difficult': Wayne Rooney warns Messi ahead of MLS debut for Inter Miami

Jun 25, 2023 04:55 PM IST

Lionel Messi left PSG as a free agent and joined Inter Miami. Wayne Rooney spoke on the Argentine's upcoming MLS debut.

Wayne Rooney was the latest on a long list of talents from England’s “Golden Generation” to cross the Atlantic and join an MLS team, when he joined the Washington DC-based DC United in 2018 for a season-long spell. Rooney enjoyed a fruitful season in the United States, making some remarkable highlights even 15 years into his professional career. Rooney is now back at DC United as the manager, having gained experience at Derby County in a hybrid player-manager role, and gaining greater exposure in the American capital.

Wayne Rooney spoke on Lionel Messi's upcoming MLS debut.(getty images)
Wayne Rooney spoke on Lionel Messi's upcoming MLS debut.(getty images)

The MLS has been in the news lately following Lionel Messi’s sensational move to Inter Miami, their most recent star signing after having the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on board in recent years. Rooney spoke to beIN Sports about the prospect of Messi, still amongst the finest in the world and certainly the best ever player to join the MLS, playing against his DC United team.

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“It'd be nice if we were his first opponents for DC fans to see him up close and for us to challenge ourselves against him. One thing I will say - it's not going to be easy for him,” said Rooney, perhaps as a caution having been a former player in the league. Rooney did score 23 times in 48 appearances for his team, but was joining them during the last legs of his playing career. Messi is fresh off a World Cup victory in which he unsurprisingly played an instrumental part.

“The league's a difficult league and I don't think he's going to come over here and absolutely tear it up immediately,” continued Manchester United’s all-time top goalscorer.

“He'll have to adapt because it's a bit different, it won't be an easy ride for him.” Messi would be one of the older players in a league which is trying to shed its reputation of being a payday for experienced players from Europe, instead trying to become a breeding ground for young and high-potential talent.

Rooney spoke of the impact having someone of Messi’s caliber playing in the US could have in a cultural sense on the league and the country. “I think it's great, to bring Messi into the league. We've all seen, over the years, the impact of David Beckham coming in, Zlatan coming in. Different players from overseas.”

Beckham was the first mega-star signing for the MLS when he joined LA Galaxy, and is now owner of Inter Miami. Messi has claimed Beckham was a big element of his joining the Miami team.

“To get Messi in the league, arguably the greatest player of all time, and still - he's a little bit older - but not long ago he won the World Cup almost single handed. It's going to be great for the league, for Miami,” concluded Rooney. Argentinian-born Messi was raised in Barcelona, and so should feel right at home in a city which has a large Spanish-speaking population — perhaps a major reason he chose South Beach over Saudi Arabia following his stint with Paris Saint-Germain.

Inter Miami currently sit bottom of the Eastern Conference in the MLS, but Messi will no doubt have a transformative effect on the team managed by his compatriot Javier Morales. Rooney’s DC meanwhile sit on the fringes of the playoff race, and could make the playoff tournament with a strong finish to the season. The two teams are slated to face off on 9th July in Washington’s Audi Field, where their fans will get a special look at one of football’s greatest ever in the flesh.

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