Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham said on more than one occasion in recent years that he frequently got calls from star players interested in moving to South Florida, and that his club would wind up signing those kinds of elite talents.
Inter Miami seems to be making good on that at last. Head coach Diego Alonso thinks so, anyway.
Inter Miami officially signed prolific Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain to a Designated Player deal on Friday, giving the expansion side the attacker with arguably the best pedigree in MLS right now. Combine Higuain’s arrival with the recent addition of World Cup winner Blaise Matuidi and Inter Miami is starting to bring in the type of top-level players it has long talked about.
“We are building a great team little by little. We are fulfilling the promises the club has made little by little and what we wanted from the roster construction,” said Alonso in Spanish. “We are happy with Gonzalo and very happy with our executives that have been putting in a great effort so that the club can be competitive.”
What Higuain, 32, is expected to bring Inter Miami quite possibly as soon as next week if his visa situation gets sorted is goals. Lots of them.
The former Argentine national team forward has spent more than a decade finding the back of the net with regularity at some of Europe’s top clubs, and the idea is that he will be able to do the same in MLS after getting let go by Juventus as part of a roster restructuring.
For Inter Miami, the sooner he can do that the better. The team has compiled a 2-7-2 record and sits in last place in the Eastern Conference thanks in part to inconsistent production up top. Juan Agudelo, Julian Carranza, and Robbie Robinson have all earned multiple starts at the striker position, but none of them have overly impressed there.
What’s more, the South Florida side has tallied just nine times in 11 games.
“We have been looking for someone to help us improve in that spot, and his goal-scoring qualities will without a doubt help us fill that,” said Alonso of Higuain. “He has incredible quality. He has played at the best teams in the world. In all of them, he has been a starter. In all of them, he has been unbalancing. In all of them, he has been important.”
Clinical finishing and competitiveness is not all that Inter Miami is expecting out of Higuain. The former Real Madrid and Napoli player is also being counted on to bring experience up top, something that he can use to both help lead the front line in games and groom up-and-comers like Carranza and Robinson.
“We have a lot of young players in that position,” said Alonso. “They are players that are also very valuable but that need more time to continue to grow. I think that Gonzalo’s arrival will mean that those players will better have more time and space and determined moments to get better.”
On a different scale, the Uruguayan manager believes Higuain’s signing shows the franchise’s ambition is “extraordinary” and that Inter Miami is proving it was serious about trying to land star players.
Yes, it might have taken longer to get a proven goal-scorer on board than some fans would have liked and may not have happened if not for Juventus’ roster turnover. Still, Alonso sees it all as part of the process.
“Building a team to win matches is often simple. It does not entail much difficulty,” said Alonso. “To build a champion, however, it takes time, it takes ingenuity, it takes hard work, and it takes finding the pieces that fit perfectly to make the machine function how you want.”