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Inter Miami expects to fill last two DP slots in coming weeks as first preseason kicks off

06:45 EAT 21/01/2020
Inter Miami preseason
The club has not yet added a true megastar but, with room for two more marquee players, the expansion side expects to be busy this month

Inter Miami kicked off the club's first-ever preseason on Monday, beginning the long-awaited push towards the franchise's inaugural MLS season. For the first time, the club's players gathered under manager Diego Alonso and, for the first time, Inter Miami began to resemble a team rather than a concept.

"It's real," said sporting director Paul McDonough. "Every day we do something, every milestone we hit, it becomes more real. We have players, a new coach, we've got grass, preseason for six weeks before we kick-off. It's very real."

What's also very real is the fact that this team isn't quite complete. Since the moment David Beckham announced that he was bringing a franchise to Miami, the expectation was that big names and big stars would follow. To date, that hasn't quite happened. The club has hired a well-regarded manager in Diego Alonso and signed highly-touted youngster Matias Pellegrini as Miami's first Designated Player, but there are still two DP spots left to be filled.

According to McDonough, that should happen sooner rather than later as the club isn't expecting to leave their business for the summer.

For many clubs, the summer is the ideal time to do business. Many European teams are reluctant to sell off key players during the winter window, a period where the market tends to inflate due to panic buys. Many players tend to move in the summer, especially those that see out their contracts and head into a new start on a free transfer.

But, for MLS teams, that timeline rarely makes sense. It takes time to adjust to a league as unique MLS, one which plays through the summer and boasts a travel schedule unlike any in Europe. By the time a summer signing is fully integrated, the season is over.

“I don’t think it makes sense to leave a Designated spot for summer,” McDonough said, according to the Miami Herald. “They’d play a full season until May, then tournaments like the Euros and Copa again, now you’re looking at getting them for 10 games; and I don’t think that’s what’s best for the club.”

He added: “We still have some more players to sign, so hopefully that will happen this week, next week, we’re not ready yet. Preseason is six weeks. We’ve got a lot of guys in, so they’ll get integrated now. We’ll integrate the others as they come. It’s a long season, I’ve learned this from doing it a couple of times. We need to be patient and not do anything rash.”

McDonough says there are still a variety of positions and roles to fill, although the club has done plenty of business so far. McDonough and co. have brought in plenty of leadership with MLS experience. That includes goalkeeper Luis Robles, a longtime figurehead for the New York Red Bulls, two-time MLS Cup champions Roman Torres and former Best XI selection Lee Nguyen, who went through the very same process with LAFC.

The club has also brought in a number of talented youngsters, with Pellegrini joined by the likes of Venezuelan U-20 Christian Makoun and Argentine youth international Julian Carranza.

However, Miami have not yet brought in the megastar that many have expected. The club has been linked with a number of them, including Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez, David Silva and Pedro. There have also been links to South American stars like Roger Martinez and Exequiel Palacios. But McDonough isn't committing to one type of signing 

“For me it’s more important that we put a team on the field that’s going to win," said McDonough. "That might be a big name. Or, it might be a young player like Miguel Almiron that’s going to come in here under the radar and all of a sudden when he gets in the league, people say, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize he was that good.’

"(We need) a couple of defenders, midfielders, and two attacking players," he added. "We’re six away...I feel very happy with the players we have here. Could we start this way? Yeah ... But we’re going to add some more special players and I think that will push us over the top."