Jordi Alba may be reuniting with Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets soon…
The 34-year-old Spanish professional footballer is thisclose to joining his former Barcelona teammates at Inter Miami CF, the MLS club’s co-owner Jorge Mas has revealed..
“We’re going to sign Alba today,” Mas told reporters after Inter Miami’s training session in Ft. Lauderdale. “I know that [manager] Tata [Martino] is counting on him for the second half of the Cup.”
Earlier, sources told ESPN that the left-back was in the final stages of talks with the club.
Alba announced that he would be leaving Barcelona — with a year left on his contract — on May 24 after 11 seasons with the LaLiga giants.
The defender subsequently attracted interest from teams in Europe and Saudi Arabia but was persuaded by Inter Miami’s offer.
Alba was a priority for Miami, sources said, but negotiations had taken longer than expected because of problems fitting him within MLS’ strict salary restrictions.
A potential move by Suárez is also complicated by the league’s roster restrictions.
Following the signings of Messi and Busquets, Miami already had its full quota of three designated players, alongside forward Leonardo Campana.
It’s possible Alba, Suárez or Campana could be registered using targeted allocation money (TAM), but even then Miami is limited.
Mas’ comments suggest the club believes those issues have been resolved and Alba will be able to join Messi and Busquets in MLS.
For the 2023 season, the MLS salary budget is $5,210,000 per team, which excludes DPs and allocation money. Teams have $2,720,000 in TAM available in 2023 — essentially supplementing the salary cap.
But as part of the sanctions levied against Inter Miami for past violations, the club has had $2,271,250 deducted from its allocation allotment spread across the 2022 and 2023 seasons.
Meanwhile, Suárez, 36, is willing to return a total of $10 million of his earnings to walk away from Brazil, but sources said Grêmio also want guarantees that the Uruguayan player will not play at any other club in 2023.
Suárez is keen to join his former Camp Nou teammates Messi and Busquets despite saying in June that it would be “impossible.”
On Tuesday, Mas also said: “I don’t know how Luis Suárez can leave Grêmio. But if he does, we are free to talk to Luis and bring him to Inter Miami. That possibility would be there.”
“I consider him a star player, with an incredible career. And we all know he has a personal relationship with Lionel [Messi], Busi [Busquets] and Jordi [Alba]. We are all in and we will welcome any player with the kind of career that Luis has but we have to know more about his future before doing any move,” Mas added in an interview with ESPN.
Suárez, who has a contract with Grêmio through 2024 and has scored 13 goals in 30 games for the club, has repeatedly complained of pain in his right knee.
Sources said the impasse is over Suárez’s fitness regarding the knee pain he has had since May. Grêmio manager Renato Gaúcho and club officials are aware of the knee issues, but sources told ESPN that Suárez has said that if he is released from the club and recovers before the end of the year, he should have the right to return to play with his new team.
Three Grêmio club doctors have examined Suárez’s knee, and sources said Suárez has been obliged to play through the pain until the club can find a substitute for the striker.
Sources said Suárez feels as though his knee cannot handle the sheer number of matches required by the Brazil league and does not want to let the fans down. Suárez has said he would prefer to play in a league with an easier calendar, such as MLS, according to sources.
Suárez signed with the Porto Alegre-based club on a free transfer with a two-year deal in 2022 after leaving his boyhood club Nacional in Uruguay. In three months with Nacional, he scored eight goals in 16 games and won the Uruguayan championship.
Previously, the 35-year-old enjoyed success in Europe with Ajax Amsterdam, Liverpool, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. He won five LaLiga titles in seven years in Spain.
Inter Miami hasn’t won an MLS match in more than two months. It has gone 0-8-3 in regular-season play since beating New England on May 13.