Inter Miami friendly matches for 2024 preseason: Lionel Messi to reportedly play Newell’s Old Boys, River Plate

With the 2023 MLS season closing earlier than expected for Inter Miami, eliminated from playoff contention, Lionel Messi will have significant time off before the new campaign begins in February 2024.

With every new season come preseason friendlies, as the players hope to ramp up their match fitness prior to the start of the coming campaign. Players need game time to build their bodies to the point where they can play full 90-minute matches, especially when they are contesting multiple games a week.

Inter Miami’s preseason will be watched with extra observation as Messi draws considerable attention wherever he goes, home or abroad. The Argentina star had looked like being part of a tour of China, although that’s no longer the case, while the prospect of facing a familiar side from home is a tantalising one.

The Sporting News has compiled all the known preseason matches either confirmed or reported prior to the start of Inter Miami’s 2024 season.

MORE: When does Inter Miami’s 2024 season begin? Lionel Messi to retake field in February

Inter Miami friendly matches for 2024 preseason

Below are all the known fixtures that have either been confirmed by the club directly or widely reported by media.

It was anticipated that Inter Miami would embark on a two-match tour of China, but that has now been cancelled, with the trip proving too difficult logistically to arrange. It was replaced by a friendly against fellow MLS side NYCFC to honor Lionel Messi’s Ballon d’Or.

One match for 2024 has been confirmed, while two others are simply rumors at this point, including one that will need to be updated as it conflicts with the club’s lone confirmed friendly.

Date Kickoff (ET) Match Location
Sat, Nov. 5, 2023 TBD Qingdao Hainiu Qingdao Youth Football Stadium
(Shandong, China)
Wed, Nov. 8, 2023 TBD Chengdu Rongcheng Phoenix Hill Sports Park
(Sichuan, China)
Fri, Nov. 10, 2024 8 p.m. Inter Miami 1-2 New York City FC DRV PNK Stadium
(Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA)
Fri, Jan. 19, 2024 8 p.m. Inter Miami vs. El Salvador Estadio Cuscatlan
(San Salvador, El Salvador)
Sat, Jan. 20, 2024 TBD Inter Miami vs. River Plate* AT&T Stadium
(Dallas, TX, USA)
Sat, Feb. 17, 2024 TBD Inter Miami vs. Newell’s Old Boys* DRV PNK Stadium
(Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA)

*Reported, but not officially confirmed — see below for details

MORE: All the details regarding Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami contract and salary

Inter Miami to play El Salvador in January

Inter Miami’s first confirmed friendly of the 2024 preseason will see the club travel to San Sebastian to take on the El Salvador national team on January 19.

The match does not fall under an official FIFA international window, meaning the national team will likely not feature any players from Europe or other leagues currently in season.

“We look forward to facing the El Salvador national team in what will be a good first test for our squad against the best players from the country,” said Chief Soccer Officer and Sporting Director Chris Henderson.

Ticketing and broadcast details will be available at a later date.

Will Inter Miami face River Plate in Dallas?

In late November, it was reported that Inter Miami have arranged to contest a friendly against Argentine giants River Plate in Dallas, Texas in late January.

According to Argentine journalist German Balcarce of River Plate publication RMG, the match will take place on January 20 and will be played at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys. However, with the El Salvador friendly, which is confirmed by the club, happening literally the day before in El Salvador, it would be impossible for Inter Miami to play this match as reported unless they split the squad.

The match would supposedly be the second leg of a two-part trip for River Plate, who will also meet Liga MX club Deportivo Guadalajara (formerly Chivas) on January 17 at the same venue. This will be updated with any additional information on whether this match will be moved to another day or nixed entirely.

Inter Miami will reportedly play Newell’s Old Boys in February

One of the games Inter Miami will play in early 2024 to ramp up before the coming season will be a notable friendly against a club with direct ties to Lionel Messi.

While not yet officially confirmed, multiple reports, including from TyC Sports in Argentina and The Miami Herald in the United States, claimed Inter Miami will face Messi’s boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys in a home friendly in mid-February.

With the season likely to begin sometime in late February, this match is timed to serve not only as an emotional testimony to Messi’s career, but also a key preseason friendly with a view towards helping the players gain full match fitness by the time the campaign begins.

Messi began his career at just six years old as a youth player at Newell’s Old Boys in his hometown of Rosario, Argentina. He was a standout for the now-famous youth side “Machine of ’87” and became a wanted player, eventually snapped up by Barcelona in 2000, where he broke into the first team five years later.

Inter Miami play NYCFC in Noche d’Or to replace China trip

With the club’s elimination from 2023 MLS playoff contention, Lionel Messi is facing nearly a full month off from competitive fixtures before he takes the field for Argentina against Uruguay and Brazil in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.

Likely with the sole intent of keeping Messi fit in that time off, and the added bonus of raking in significant cash, Inter Miami scheduled a two-match tour of China in early November after their regular season concluded.

They were expected to visit two Chinese Super League sides, starting with a match against Qingdao Hainiu on November 5, followed by a game against Chengdu Rongcheng three days later However, it was reported on October 30 the planned tour was off. Gaston Edu of TyC Sports reported the visit had been cancelled due to “commercial and bureaucratic” reasons.

Inter Miami no va a viajar a China. La gira que incluía dos amistosos se cae por temas burocráticos/comerciales. pic.twitter.com/8I0jBxg4Zz

— Gastón Edul (@gastonedul) October 30, 2023

Instead, Inter Miami met NYCFC in a hastily arranged friendly at DRV PNK Stadium on November 10 to honor Lionel Messi’s most recent Ballon d’Or. The friendly is being dubbed the “Noche d’Or” or “Night of Gold” as a nod to his latest achievement.

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