Inter Miami are already looking forward to next season after revealing their year-end roster decisions for the 2021 campaign. The latest MLS expansion franchise fell well short of the expectations of fans and analysts alike, losing to Nashville SC in the early stages of the postseason playoffs. The defeat to a fellow expansion club will have been a bitter pill for head coach Diego Alonso to swallow, but the reality is that he and the roster went into the 2020 season undercooked and ill-prepared.
The Herons only scraped into the postseason playoffs but fell meekly at the first hurdle to Nashville SC, losing 3-0. At the time of writing, Columbus Crew look well-placed to win the MLS Cup this year. According to FOX Bet, a fast-growing US sports betting operator across New Jersey, Colorado and Pennsylvania, Columbus are rated at +125 to overcome New England in the Conference Final, with a potential MLS Cup Final clash against either Minnesota or Seattle.
Club president David Beckham and head coach Alonso will be keen to follow in the footsteps of Columbus and co. in 2021 and already Alonso is forging ahead with plans to develop a cohesive strategy and style of play for next season. The roster update confirmed that 17 players remain under contract for 2021, but the franchise opted to decline eight player contract options, while four other players are out of contract, with negotiations over new deals for the likes of Andres Reyes in progress.
Herons bid farewell to captain Robles
The team has opted against retaining veteran striker Juan Agudelo, while last season’s skipper and goalkeeper Luis Robles has also departed. Robles’ season did not end how he would have hoped after sustaining a broken arm in early October which required surgery. The only player whose contract option was exercised was John McCarthy. A quick glance at the current roster for 2021 reveals only two senior keepers in the ranks and only three front-line forwards too. The team looks well-stocked in midfield, with seven faces already signed up for next term, including the likes of Blaise Matuidi and Victor Ulloa.
Beckham and Alonso likely to be busy in the transfer market
It suggests that Alonso and the Herons’ hierarchy will be working hard in the close season to try and bring fresh firepower to the franchise. One prime target could be 34-year-old French international striker Olivier Giroud. The Chelsea forward has struggled to cement a place in Frank Lampard’s first-choice line-up this season and appears to be keen to move on from Stamford Bridge in England’s January transfer window.
The main frustration for Giroud is that a lack of game time is hampering his chances of being involved in France’s squad for next summer’s European Championships. He’s only featured for 33 minutes in the English Premier League (EPL) this term and a switch to Inter Miami – and a chance to link up with Gonzalo Higuain – would surely appeal. A front line of Giroud and Higuain would certainly be one of the most powerful strike forces in the MLS for 2021.
Defensive recruits are also likely to be high on the agenda, with president David Beckham reportedly pushing hard to sign Real Madrid icon Sergio Ramos, who could swap the Bernabeu for the Inter Miami CF Stadium. The 34-year-old is still captain of Real and his country, such is his influence in the dressing room and on the field. His current contract with Real expires next summer and Beckham is reportedly keen to entice Ramos to Florida with a long-term deal in that will take him up to his retirement. Ramos has won virtually every major club and international trophy there is to win in soccer and his winning mentality would certainly bring a great deal to such a new franchise. The Herons have been working hard to forge commercial partnerships off the field too, with the likes of Captain Morgan coming on board this year. All of which will help to build the Inter Miami brand.
An experienced spine of Ramos, Matuidi, Higuain and Giroud would certainly be an intriguing foundation for Miami next season. Both Ramos and Giroud realistically have three years left at the top of their game, so Beckham and co. will be hoping to attract them sooner rather than later to have the desired impact on the rest of the roster. If the news reports are anything to go by, the next few months could see revolution rather than evolution at the Herons’ helm.