FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Inter Miami made its first two international signings of the offseason over the the past week and change, and the team is still looking to add two more reinforcements.
Inter Miami officially unveiled its new secondary road jersey on Saturday morning, and franchise brass was on hand prior to the reveal to talk about a numbers of topics. Co-owners David Beckham and Jorge Mas, head coach Phil Neville, and sporting director Chris Henderson all spoke about the state of the team ahead of the start of preseason, including the desire to bring in another pair of players.
“We hope to make two additions,” said Henderson. “We are waiting on some decisions at the league level for where we are and what we can do this year and then we will see. We will evaluate our team when we get our full group in. Hopefully everybody is in by (the season start on) April 17, but we will see. We are working hard on that.”
Henderson added that the Herons are looking to sign an attacker and a fullback, and one player that fits the latter that has been in talks with the team is veteran Kieran Gibbs. Henderson confirmed recent reports linking Gibbs with a move to Inter Miami, potentially in the summer after the Englishman finishes his season with West Bromwich Albion, but said the MLS side was also exploring other alternatives.
“With Kieran, that is a possibility,” said Henderson of Gibbs not joining up with the team until midseason. “We have had some initial talks with him. We are also looking at other (options), but it could be that it plays out that if he is the one we land on, he could come after.”
As for the attacker Inter Miami is seeking, Henderson said it “could” be a winger or even an attacking midfielder.
“If we end up in a 4-2-3-1 system, it is somewhere in the band of three,” said Henderson. “It could be any one of those three positions.”
NEVILLE discusses PIZARRO’S ROLE
If the Herons go with that 4-2-3-1 formation that they played in a lot during their expansion season, Rodolfo Pizarro figures to line up somewhere in one of the attacking midfield positions. Pizarro was used predominantly as a No. 10 last year and also spent some time out wide, but his overall production was inconsistent in 2020.
How and where he fits in Neville’s plans has not yet been made clear, but regardless of what position Pizarro occupies, Inter Miami’s head coach wants to try and get more out of the Mexican international.
“When you talk about Rodolfo Pizarro I think what you want — forget the position — you want him on the ball because he has got great technical ability,” said Neville. “He has got the ability that probably some players haven’t got. The ability to turn, the ability to see the pass, so I think that is something that we need to work really hard on: get our best technical players on the ball and that means we have to give Rodolfo a good platform, a better platform to be successful.
“Everyone I have spoken to in the MLS, coaches (and) friends, tell me what great ability this boy has got. This season we need to see that.”
MAS GIVES INSIGHT INTO REYES’ DEPARTURE
Inter Miami entered the offseason stating publicly that it wanted to bring young centerback Andres Reyes back for a second season, but Neville apparently did not.
“There were some conversations with Phil at the time about that,” said Mas. “We went over it, so the decision was made that Andres would probably have a better opportunity at another team than he would not have had here at Inter Miami.”
The South Florida team wound up moving on from Reyes, who signed with the New York Red Bulls this winter, and went with adding a more veteran back line presence in Ryan Shawcross. Questions remain about Shawcross’ health and form, however, after injuries limited him to just seven first-team matches over the past two seasons.
Nonetheless, Inter Miami is convinced that the 33-year-old defender is past those issues and will be able to contribute consistently.
“We will have a tremendous staff around him in our performance staff and our trainers,” said Henderson. “We are going to support him every single day.”
BECKHAM AND MAS Talk JERSEY SPONSOR, ADOPTING PINK
Inter Miami’s launch of its new ‘La Palma’ black secondary jersey for 2021 inevitably led to questions about a main kit sponsor. The Herons played the entirety of their expansion campaign without a company logo on the front of their tops, but the team is trying to avoid that from happening again.
“We have had multiple conversations with global brands about being our jersey sponsor,” said Mas. “Going back to 2020, there were a lot of rumors. We were at some points very close to having a jersey sponsor. We had multiple opportunities. For this year, ’21, we are in conversations with sponsors.
“I do anticipate having a major jersey sponsor for this upcoming ’21 year.”
As for the color scheme, Inter Miami may soon be adopting a pink matchday jersey. The team has yet to do so, wearing only predominantly white and black tops to date, but that could change in the not too distant future.
“Going forward we have a lot of pink with our ideas,” said Beckham. “The team wears it every single day, the fans love it, and we are listening to that.”
Here are other nuggets from Inter Miami’s jersey launch availability:
- Promising academy signing Ian Fray has torn his ACL. The teenager suffered the injury in a 5-v-5 drill in a voluntary practice during the week, and has had surgery. He is out indefinitely.
- The team has not yet appointed a new Chief Business Officer, but Mas said Xavi Asensi is set to be hired for that position. Asensi is currently consulting on commercial matters. He last worked for Spanish giant FC Barcelona as its Chief Commercial Officer, a role he stepped down from late last month.
- The Herons are planning to have an estimated 3,500-6,000 fans at Inter Miami CF Stadium at the start of the season. The team is hoping to have the full capacity of 20,000 at the venue by summer or fall.
- Inter Miami is “optimistic” that an agreement on a lease for its Miami Freedom Park stadium project will be done in March, and the hope is that local government will give the club the green light to move forward with the venture in the “next 45 days.”
- The South Florida side is planning to stay mostly local during preseason, but a bus trip to a northern part of the state may be in the cards. The goal is to have 4-5 exhibition games vs. other teams.