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Lionel Messi has ‘transformed’ Inter Miami after Leagues Cup heroics, admits beaten Nashville boss Gary Smith



Lionel Messi has “transformed” Inter Miami after inspiring their League Cup triumph, admitted beaten Nashville manager Gary Smith.The 36-year-old had been at his absolute best throughout the tournament for Inter Miami and even opened the scoring in the final with a brilliant curling strike into the top-left corner to take his tally to 10 goals in seven games. His goal was not enough to win it in regulation time but the Herons held their nerves in a dramatic penalty shootout to emerge triumphant by a scoreline of 10-9.

Smith was aware of the challenge that awaited his Nashville team but could do little to stop Messi, who he believes has “transformed” Inter Miami since his arrival in Florida last month.

“It was going to be a difficult one going into the game,” the Nashville manager told talkSPORT.

“Amazingly, Miami have been transformed in this last month, five weeks, the addition of Messi as you know and [Sergio] Busquets and [Jordi] Alba have made such a difference to that team.

“So we knew it was going to be a tough one but the guys put in a wonderful performance and I think when you go to penalties and the goalkeepers are going to be the difference, you know that it’s the finest of margins.”

Smith did have a plan in place to stop Messi, which did not allow the forward to see much of the ball. But the manager believes that the World Cup winner was still “unplayable” with the few decisive touches he had during the match.

“He literally had two efforts at goal in the game, I want to say he probably didn’t touch the ball more than eight or ten times. But the unfortunate thing is, he is just unplayable in those moments,” he said.

“Part of the process was to obviously try and limit that, crazily he ended up on the ball through strange circumstances, bit of a ricochet and the rest of it you’re fully aware of. He’s absolutely clinical and the finish is magnificent.”The games that we watched leading into our match-up, some of the teams over here had probably just given him a little bit too much respect.” After winning the 44th title of his illustrious career, Messi will be back in action for Inter Miami on Wednesday evening in the semi-final of the U.S. Open Cup against Cincinnati.