Blaise Matuidi officially joined Inter Miami training beginning Friday morning and head coach Diego Alonso said that the Frenchman would be available for selection on Sunday when Inter Miami welcome fellow expansion side Nashville SC in Week 10 action.
Alonso lived up to those words with his posted starting XI, which featured Matuidi in his familiar holding midfield role. However, fans would have to wait just a little longer to see his debut, with severe weather in South Florida delaying kick off of the match until approximately 10:30 pm ET (FS1/FOX Deportes, MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada). The match is set to start at 9:45 pm ET.
“We’re very happy with the fact that Blaise is able to train with us," Alonso told media on Friday. "He is available to play on the weekend. We believe he’s trained really well during the time he’s been here and we’re confident that he can be ready to join the team in the next game.
“Clearly he’s not physically 100 percent. That’s normal," Alonso continued. "He’s coming off finishing a season [with Juventus] and then a break, a vacation period and the restart of training. Nonetheless, we’ve noticed he’s in good shape. He’s been training with us on an individual basis for several days now and today [Friday] he was able to train with us and surely the next game he’ll be available. We’ll continue to evaluate him everyday, but the good thing is that he can be available to the coaching staff for the next game.”
The club shared the first photos of Matuidi in action:
As far as where Matuidi will play when he takes the field, Alonso highlighted his versatility and the fact that his integration will give attacker Rodolfo Pizarro the chance to be even more productive in attack.
“[Matuidi] can play as the No. 8, he can play in central midfield or he can play at outside midfield. He can play at fullback and he can play at defensive midfield," Alonso said. "He’s a player who has an incredible ability to adapt and this allows us to have first an elite soccer player, second a dynamic player which for us is vital, and then he’s also a soccer player who can interpret the game and move positions and fill different roles on the team.
“With Matuidi’s arrival we have the ability to free up Rodolfo [Pizarro] more to attack. And it will help us because [Matuidi] can play, he has game and he can take the initiative. Rodolfo is the top scorer of this team. In 7 or 8 games he has 3 goals and 2 assists. And I think he’s been the best creator we have. But I also think that with more players to combine with and more players to team up with, the team can take a step forward.”
Matuidi, a 33-year-old French international, was signed by Inter Miami using Targeted Allocation Money on August 13 after three seasons with reigning Italian champions Juventus and six seasons with French giants Paris Saint-Germain, where he played with Inter Miami part owner David Beckham in the 2012-’13 season. He started out at French sides Troyes and Saint-Etienne before moving to PSG.
Matuidi won the 2018 World Cup with France and has logged 84 senior appearances for Les Bleus, registering nine goals and 10 assists across all competitions. In addition to the 2018 World Cup, he played in the 2014 edition as well as the 2016 Euros.
“There’s a hell of a difference one individual can make, particularly a guy with the caliber of this player," Nashville head coach Gary Smith told reporters on a virtual press conference Friday. "A World Cup winner who played at the highest level. Even if he’s not on the field to begin with, his presence in the locker room and not being a million miles from competing will give everyone a lift.”