Josef Martinez will not be re-joining Inter Miami for the 2024 MLS season, dropping a major hint that David Beckham's franchise could pursue a deal for Luis Suarez.
Inter Miami announced their 2023 roster decisions on Wednesday after the club failed to qualify for the MLS Cup playoffs, and the contract option for Martinez has been declined. Martinez was not part of the squad for Miami's final two MLS games for the season, as they didn't want to risk any injuries to the player and also he is not part of their plans moving forward.
Suarez was under contract with Brazilian side Gremio until the end of 2024, but has reached an agreement to leave the club at the end of their season in December. With the 2024 MLS season starting in February, it would allow Suarez to have time off over the festive period and join Miami for pre-season as normal should they land their top target.
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When Martinez signed for Miami after leaving Atlanta United at the end of the 2022 MLS season, he filled the void created by Gonzalo Higuain who announced his retirement. But unlike Higuain, Martinez didn't occupy one of their designated player spots.
Miami's decision to let Martinez go will create approximately $4.4 million (£3.65m) of salary cap space, and Suarez earns reportedly $4.5 million (£3.72m) a year at Gremio. Although his base salary would be lower, the opportunity for sponsorships and endorsements in Miami would be far greater than anything he's been exposed to throughout his entire footballing career.
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Miami head coach Gerardo Martino broke his silence on the Suarez links before the end of the MLS regular season, as he told reporters: "Within our analysis of the upcoming season, and the needs we may have, we have an analysis with Luis and an analysis without Luis. When the moment arrives to make Suarez's situation with respect to Inter Miami official, we'll be prepared to go in the corresponding direction."
The stars are aligning for Suarez to join former teammates Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba in MLS, but there's still a long way to go in negotiations.
Lionel Messi has made an instant impact in the MLS since his move to Inter Miami. Helping the club to cup glory and firing them up the table, Messi is once again the most talked about player in the game and now you can get the stylish Adidas made Inter Miami home and away shirt.
When Suarez left Liverpool for Barcelona in 2014, he was part of a treble-winning side in his first season. Barcelona had one of the best attacking trios in football history, with Messi, Suarez, and Neymar leading the line.
Suarez and Messi were close friends off the field and brought the best out of each other when playing together at Barcelona. Miami are already one of the favorites to win the MLS Cup next season, but with Suarez they could dominate the division and create history.