When does Inter Miami 2024 season begin? Lionel Messi back in action in February with MLS, Champions Cup

In his first season with Inter Miami, Lionel Messi will enjoy something he isn’t exactly used to: an extended break.

Well … maybe “enjoy” isn’t the right word. With their 1-0 defeat to FC Cincinnati on October 7, Inter Miami officially failed to qualify for the MLS playoffs, meaning their final two matches of the 2023 season will be merely a formality.

That means that Messi’s next few months will see him get significant rest, only potentially playing for the Argentina national team during that time.

The Sporting News explains when Messi, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, and their Inter Miami teammates will be back on the pitch in early 2024.

MORE: Lionel Messi called up to Argentina national team for October qualifiers

When will Inter Miami start the 2024 season?

The 2024 MLS season schedule has not yet been released, but it will likely start in either late February. For comparison, the 2023 season began on February 25, and it’s expected that the 2024 season will also begin on that date.

MORE: Get the lowdown on when 2024 MLS fixtures will be released

It was widely expected Major League Soccer would vote this offseason to change the schedule and pause league play during FIFA international breaks starting in 2024, which would mean the league must find other times to play those games. Therefore, stretching the season earlier and later was thought to be an option, but no word on that has been heard.

However, we do have the latest that Inter Miami could begin their season. The club will take part in the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup, earning a bye to the Round of 16 thanks to their Leagues Cup title.

Inter Miami were given their first CONCACAF Champions Cup match on March 7, 2024, meaning if the MLS season starts after that date (unlikely), that would be the club’s first competitive fixture of the campaign.

MORE: Full dates & times for CONCACAF Champions Cup for Round One and Round of 16

Will Lionel Messi play during the MLS offseason?

It’s of course possible that Lionel Messi finds another club to secure a short-term loan with which to bridge the gap, but it feels far more likely that Messi, now 36 years old, will embrace the lengthy rest.

However, Messi will still likely need to stay match-fit in order to play for the Argentina national team in the coming weeks and months.

Messi was called up by Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni for their October World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay and Peru, and it’s a virtual certainty that he will be included for the November international break, which includes a massive tilt with arch-rivals Brazil.

MORE: What is the CONCACAF Champions Cup? 2024 name change for North American competition

Following those two games, Argentina do not currently have any scheduled fixtures until late 2024 when CONMEBOL resumes its qualification schedule, although the 2024 Copa America looms during the coming summer.

Still, from November through February, Messi will have ample time to rest and recover to make sure he is ready to play when the 2024 season kicks off.

Currently, Inter Miami only have one scheduled friendly, against New York City FC on November 10, alongside a likely friendly against Messi’s boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys, in February 2024.

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