David Beckham and Jorge Mas speak on the eve of the Inter Miami opener

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On the eve of their team’s third season opener, Inter Miami co-owners David Beckham and Jorge Mas spoke to the media about the challenges the club was facing, the reason behind the sweeping roster changes and the status of the proposed Miami Freedom Park -Stadiums.

They also pledged their commitment to coach Phil Neville and the local youth at his academy, hinting that at least one of them – believed to be 17-year-old Pembroke Pines’ Noah Allen – could be on the squad for Saturday’s home game against Chicago on Fire , if the league paperwork is ready in time.

Beckham and Mas did an exclusive interview with the Miami Herald after the Zoom press conference, in which they discussed whether there is a plan B if the Miami Freedom Park deal falls through and whether the rumors that the Argentine Superstar Lionel Messi could end up having validity with Inter Miami. Mas also confirmed that the team are in initial talks to become the owner of Spanish second division club Real Zaragoza.

Beckham, in his first public comments about the team since early 2021, said he’s learned through the eight-year Miami Stadium saga and two seasons “to have a little bit of patience that I don’t have much of.” did not meet the high expectations of the owners or fans.

“The last few years haven’t delivered exactly what we wanted, but as we step down as owners and look back over the last eight years, I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” said Beckham. “I’m proud to bring this team to this league and this city to have great staff and players but what really matters is winning.

“I’ve been very lucky to have played for big clubs with big players and lots of fans and I’ve been lucky to be successful, but it’s not easy. We’re a fairly new club so we have to be patient, but do we have that patience for too long? Of course not, because we are winners.”

Beckham said there were “a number of opportunities, too many, frankly,” last season when he felt some players weren’t fighting enough, so they made “brave decisions” to fill the roster with players brought by Neville and athletic director Chris Henderson were selected.

Beckham and Mas told the Herald that they remain optimistic about Miami Freedom Park stadium, which has been proposed for the location of the Melreese Golf Course next to Miami International Airport.

“I’ve said from day one that Overtown, our Plan B location and approved by MLS, is not where the stadium should go,” Mas said when asked what happens if the Miami City Commission rejects their stadium plans March 9 and they can’t find a solution. “I grew up in Miami and I don’t think that’s the right place for the stadium. Miami Freedom Park is the place, and it’s the place residents and fans want, so let’s be persistent. We’ll keep pushing. I’m confident that we’ll get the green light on March 9 because every single element that we promised the Commission and the community is in the lease.

“I think it’s a tremendous deal for the City of Miami. There are elements that are unique and favorable to the city, so I see no reason why Miami Freedom Park shouldn’t move forward.”

Beckham praised Fort Lauderdale for its embrace and support but said Miami has always been, and continues to be, the intended home.

“When I started this process eight or nine years ago, we were talking about Miami, and while the facility here is incredible and everyone in Fort Lauderdale has done an incredible job to make this the most amazing experience, our agreement was with the league Of course, always having a stadium in Miami and we will always fight for that,” said Beckham. “Our commitment from day one has always been to have our stadium in Miami and the league pushed us to do that.”

It has long been thought that a Miami team needs a few world stars to be successful and popular, and many of the sport’s top names are associated with the team. But Mas and Beckham say signing stars isn’t their priority.

“This market needs profits,” Mas said. “If we win with young children, we are winners. Check out the Miami Heat now. The Heat has taken kids that a lot of people weren’t expecting and they’re performing and fighting and it’s amazing to watch. If we win, the fans will follow. Do I think there will be stars at Inter Miami? Absolutely. But not every star fits. This is not a retirement league. If your skills have slipped, Miami is not the place for you.”

Is there any truth to the latest rumors that Messi could join Inter Miami already this summer?

“Leo Messi is still one of the best players in the world, his skills haven’t diminished,” said Mas. “I think and David has a relationship with him if he leaves PSG at the time he leaves, we would love to see Lionel Messi as a player at Inter Miami and as part of our community. Can it happen? Look, we’re going to push. I’m an optimist at heart. could i see that It is a possibility.”

Asked if he could see Messi in a pink Inter Miami shirt, Beckham said: “I’ve always said that I want to have the best players at our club and play in our shirt because there’s a certain expectation. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be something bad. But mostly it’s a good thing. When I started this project, people said, ‘This guy is coming, this guy is coming, Ronaldo is coming, Messi is coming.’ At the end of the day, whether it’s with the boys or the stars, we have to win. Our fans will be happy when we have stars on the team, but they will be even happier to see young players come through our academy and win the MLS Cup.”

Mas confirmed he is in exploratory talks with Spanish club Real Zaragoza and explained why.

“We’re always looking for ways to expand Inter Miami’s presence in terms of player development,” Mas said. “All that has motivated David and I to look for possible partnerships or investments with clubs abroad has always been how we can improve the Inter Miami squad. This is our flagship property in Miami. Having connections and ownership in different clubs gives you platforms for youth. What an amazing experience for maybe some of our academy players to go through a hopefully La Liga team and vice versa.”

Finally, both owners said they have a good feeling about the revamped 2022 team, which includes 14 new faces and will play in a new all-pink uniform.

“I think we’re going to surprise people this year,” Mas said. “You’re not going to see the best version of this team on Saturday. At some point during the season it will be, and that goes for every single team. If a team performs at its best tomorrow, that’s not good. But our expectations are still high. We have to be a playoff team.”

This story was originally published Feb 25, 2022 1:37 p.m.

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Miami Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman has covered 14 Olympics, six World Cups, Wimbledon, US Open, NCAA basketball tournaments, NBA playoffs and Super Bowls, and has been a football writer and University of Miami basketball beat writer for 25 years. She was born in Frederick, MD and grew up in Miami.

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