Lionel Messi and Inter Miami Add Japan Stop to Preseason Tour

AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd
People walk past a mural of Argentina’s soccer star Lionel Messi in the Padre Carlos Mugica neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The preseason tour for Lionel Messi and Inter Miami keeps growing, with the team revealing Friday that a stop in Japan has now been added to the schedule.

Inter Miami will face Japanese league champion Vissel Kobe at the Japan National Stadium on Feb. 7. That will be the fourth match of a tour that includes games in Saudi Arabia — including one pitting Messi against longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo — on Jan. 29 and Feb. 1, and a game against a team of pro players from Hong Kong on Feb. 4.

Among those on the Vissel Kobe roster: Andrés Iniesta, who once teamed up with Messi and fellow Inter Miami players Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba at Barcelona. Iniesta also was teammates with Busquets when Spain won the 2010 World Cup.

Inter Miami now has five preseason matches announced; there’s the four on the Saudi Arabia-Hong Kong-Japan trip and another in El Salvador on Jan. 19.

The team will begin preseason training in early January and the Major League Soccer regular season is set to begin in February.