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Inter Miami tight-lipped on Messi as Argentine coach takes charge
Inter Miami's sporting director Chris Henderson declined to comment on speculation over a bid for Lionel Messi as the club unveiled their new Argentine interim coach Javier Morales on Friday.
Miami, who sacked their English coach Phil Neville on Thursday, have long been linked with a bid for Messi, who is expected to leave Paris Saint-Germain when his contract runs out at the end of this season.
The club, which is co-owned by David Beckham, has pointedly never denied the various reports of a bid and when asked directly if an offer had been made for Messi, Henderson was careful with his words.
"I'm not going to get into specifics about players that are not on our roster," he said.
"I'm here today to talk about Javi Morales to talk about our team. You know there is a transfer window opening but we wanted we want to focus on tomorrow night (against D.C. United), the Open Cup quarterfinals and and the next game... so it's a busy period for us and that's our focus at the moment," he said.
Former Manchester United player Neville was sacked after Miami's fourth straight loss left them stranded at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and ranked 27th of 29 teams in MLS with fans having turned against him.
Morales was appointed as interim head coach but former Argentina and Barcelona coach Tata Martino, who worked in MLS as head coach of Atlanta before coaching Mexico at last year's World Cup, has been linked with a move to the South Florida club.
"I don't I don't want to talk about specific coaches," said Henderson when asked about Martino.
"There will be a process, interview process but I'm not going to get into specifics. That's internal within our club between myself and our ownership group and we will we will continue that process together as a group," he added.
Although no timescale has been given to Morales, both the coach and Henderson referred to the next three games on several occasions.
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Morales, who began his playing career in Argentina before moving to Real Salt Lake in MLS, said he was relishing the chance to take charge of the side for the upcoming games, starting with the visit of Wayne Rooney's D.C. United on Saturday.
He also said he would love to get the job on a permanent basis.
"Of course, this is the opportunity of my life, I've been waiting for this," he said.
"Probably it is not in the way that I expected but this is life, it is what it is, it has come at this time, I am happy for the opportunity and I will do my best.
"I've seen this club growing so much..I love this club and will try to help (the team) to improve and get better as soon as possible".
There is now a distinctly Argentine feel to the Miami club, which has a strongly South American fan base -- as well as Morales, goalkeeping coach Sebastian Saja played four times for the national side and eight years with Argentine club San Lorenzo.
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Federico Higuain, the brother of former Argentina and Real Madrid forward Gonzalo, is the head coach of Inter's reserve team, assisted by compatriot Cristian Raul Ledesma.
"What we want to start achieving is that people come to the stadium and they feel identified and represented by this club and by this team," said Morales.
"That people go home, regardless of the result, proud to be an Inter Miami fan. I am not saying that has not what has happened in the past but that is what I want from my team".