There isn’t much David Beckham hasn’t achieved in his hugely successful soccer career. A grand total of 19 major trophies have been won, including a UEFA Champions league and titles in England, Spain, France and The United States. Not to mention 115 caps for England including 58 as captain.
It is a career that has seen him play for some of the most iconic teams on the planet, and taken him from Manchester United to Real Madrid, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and LA Galaxy. Now he faces perhaps the toughest test of them all as co-owner of Inter Miami.
When Beckham joined LA Galaxy in 2007, his contract gave him an option to own an expansion team at a considerable discount to the normal franchise fee. On 5 February 2014 it was announced that Beckham had exercised that option for $25 million, saving himself a cool $125 million in the process.
The ownership group led by Beckham, had hoped the Inter Miami team would start the 2016 season, but after suffering repeated delays in finalising a stadium deal, it was finally announced that the team had been approved and would play the 2020 season. Club Internacional de Futbol Miami – or Inter Miami – were born.
What can we expect from Inter Miami this season?
Understandably last season was a season like no other for Inter Miami and an opening day 0-1 loss away to LA FC was a sign of things to come.
A new team and a new coach are just a few of the factors that meant despite all the hype, their debut season was a disappointment. After narrowly qualifying for the Eastern Conference play-off with a 10th place finish, they crashed out following a 3-0 defeat against fellow expansion team Nashville SC.
This season sees Miami start with yet another new head coach in Phil Neville, as David Beckham takes a more hands-on approach by appointing his former Manchester United and England teammate.
Neville is unfazed by the challenge ahead despite the increased expectations that come with the job. In a recent press conference Co-owner Jorge Mas, stated that Inter Miami aspire to be a top-three team in the eastern conference. Mas also claimed that their recent signings make an MLS Cup run an achievable aim.
Inter Miami will not be among the favourites for this year’s MLS cup but if you are from a state with legal sports betting, the 2020 winners Columbus Crew are many peoples tip to repeat that feat. Other candidates are last year’s finalists Seattle Sounders while the current holders of the Supporters’ Shield, Philadelphia Union, must also be considered.
Head Coach Phil Neville
Announced as head coach of Inter Miami in January 2021, Neville has not had long to get his ideas across to the players. He has however, surrounded himself with lots of MLS experience with former US midfielder Chris Henderson coming in as sporting director and chief soccer officer.
Before being appointed England Women’s Head Coach and taking them to a World Cup Semi-Final, Neville was assistant coach at Everton, Valencia and Manchester United. He is a lifelong friend of Beckham and brings with him a winning mentality from his playing days and a desire to prove that foreign coaches can succeed in the MLS.
The Argentine did not have the best debut MLS season. One goal in 9 appearances, in a 1-2 away win against NY Red Bulls, is not what was expected from such a talented player.
Some European players take a while to get used to playing in the MLS but this season the expectations are high. If he can maintain his fitness and the coach can get him motivated then Higuaín remains a match winning threat, even at the age of 33.
Inter Miami signed the World Cup winning Frenchman in August 2020, and much like Higuain, he took some time to settle and adapt to the MLS. Now with a season under his belt it is hoped that the Frenchman can step up and show the qualities that have brought him titles in France and Italy.
Long serving Stoke City centre half, Ryan Shawcross, was recently signed on a free transfer by Inter Miami.
Sporting director Chris Henderson said in a recent release. “He’s physically dominant, his feet are good, his range of passing is good and we think he’s going to be a great addition to our backline.”
Another new signing, 27-year-old defensive midfielder Gregore, was recently brought in from Brazilian club Esporte Clube Bahia. An energetic, hardworking player, the Brazilian will slot in alongside Matuidi in the centre of midfield, providing a formidable pairing in the centre of the pitch.
Will we see Ronaldo or Messi?
Beckham has refused to rule out the possibility of signing either Messi or Ronaldo, claiming that Miami fans want to see big stars.
Ronaldo still has 12 months left on his contract at Juventus, but his wages are crippling the Italian giants, and they are thought to be keen to move the Portuguese superstar on. The former Manchester United and real Madrid player may be 36 years old, but he is still one of the best players in the world.
Messi has consistently stated that he would like to end his career in the MLS and the stars may be aligning at just the right time. The Argentines Barcelona contract expires this summer and Beckham and his fellow co-owners would not let wages stand in the way of such a high profile signing.
Whoever arrives, the pressure on Miami, and Neville, to deliver results on the pitch this season has increased. The owners expect to see a return on their considerable investment, especially with a new stadium to pay for. Time will tell if Beckham and Neville’s friendship can survive.