‘As long as he has two legs and two eyes, he’s just another player’: Cruz Azul star Erik Lira plays down threat of Lionel Messi ahead of Inter Miami debut in Leagues Cup
- Lionel Messi is set to make his Inter Miami debut against Cruz Azul on July 21
- Players from the Mexican side have vowed to treat the match just like any other
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Cruz Azul midfielder Erik Lira is not daunted by the task of taming Lionel Messi on his debut for Inter Miami, with the Mexican warning: ‘As long as he has two legs and two eyes, he’s just another player.’
Messi is expected to make his bow against the Mexican club in the Leagues Cup on July 21, having joined MLS outfit Inter Miami following his departure from Paris Saint-Germain.
The signing of Argentina’s World Cup winner, considered by many to be the greatest soccer player of all time, is considered a huge coup for MLS and Miami.
But Lira insists Cruz Azul’s players will treat their trip to Miami just like any other match.
‘It’s a unique opportunity. It’s a new tournament, we have to fight for it,’ the 23-year-old said.
Cruz Azul star Erik Lira (L) is not daunted by the task of taming Lionel Messi on his US debut
Messi is expected to make his bow against Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup on July 21
‘But the truth is it’s just another game for us, (manager) Tuca Ferretti tells us that Messi is just another player – obviously he’s a bit imposing, but we’re going to win.’
Messi has already been joined in Miami by former Barcelona team-mate Sergio Busquets.
Ex-Barca boss Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has also taken over following the sacking of Phil Neville, while Jordi Alba and Andres Iniesta are also reportedly being lined up by the MLS side.
Legendary midfielder Iniesta, now 39, is on Miami’s radar according to RAC1, having called time on his stay at Japanese side Vissel Kobe.
Midfielder Andres Iniesta (right) is the latest Barcelona legend linked with a move to join Messi
Josef Martinez’s late strike gave Inter Miami a crucial 2-2 tie against Columbus Crew this week
Recent reports have also claimed that Real Madrid icon Sergio Ramos – who played with Messi at PSG – could move to South Beach.
Inter Miami sits bottom of the Eastern Conference but Josef Martinez kept alive the club’s slender play-off hopes with a 90th-minute equaliser against Columbus Crew on Tuesday.
Miami twice fought back from behind to share the points.