Paul McDonough - Inter Miami
Inter Miami

Paul McDonough lays out Inter Miami's ambitious roster-building plan

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Theo Walcott, Gerard Pique and, most recently, Gareth Bale have several things in common. 

  1. They are, or once were, among the world's greatest soccer players. 
  2. They are, or once were, linked with signing for Inter Miami CF.

Thankfully for Inter Miami, they have an ambitious ownership group to keep up with all the transfer rumors.

“We will have three Designated Players in our first year," McDonough told MLSsoccer.com matter-of-factly last week. “It’s an ongoing process, we’re talking with guys. We’ve had some meetings. Trying to figure out if we’re right for them and [if] they’re right for us. It’s all progressing well."

With no players, lofty goals and David Beckham steering the yacht, Miami have been named a potential destination for a disproportionate number of global stars. Contract expiring? Inter Miami is one call away. Fallen out of favor with a current manager? Well, a change of scenery to beautiful south Florida might do the trick. Ever been a teammate or even just a fan of Beckham? Start printing the Inter kits. 

“It’s not surprising for us, we know with the ownership group we have – the ambition – the city we live in, it’s going to be desirable for players to come," McDonough said, before seeing the lighter side of the monsoon of players linked with his club. “It’s more about trying to take the time to field all the calls to find out if they’re true or not."

Much more goes into an MLS club than just three DPs, of course. There is a lot of work to do for McDonough and Inter Miami – stadium and training facility construction notwithstanding. Still waiting to appoint a head coach, sign their first player, establish a USL affiliate and more with less than 10 months until their inaugural MLS match, Miami are set for a frantic ramp-up period ahead of the 2020 season.

McDonough knows the club's first players will come before a head coach is announced. In fact, he goes as far as to estimate the club will have a quarter of the roster in place before appointing a head coach. 

“We’re going to try and start building the team in the club’s vision, then we’ll try and pick a coach that fits the vision," McDonough said. "David [Beckham] and I have talked about what we want the club to be like, how we want to play. Hopefully we’ll find players and a coach that match our philosophy.”

There are similarities between what Miami are looking to build and what McDonough helped create at Atlanta United.

Ownership have similar ambitions and may well have a similar squad makeup. Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron and Hector Villalba are all South American, an influence Inter Miami will certainly have. Atlanta were balanced, though, with MLS experienced players such as Michael Parkhurst and Jeff Larentowicz. Balance, too, is something Miami will certainly have.

“It’s natural with Miami to be focused on South and Central America because of the makeup here," McDonough said. "It’s [also] important we have MLS experience and guys who know the league. Europe is a really good place to go because [of] the quality of the leagues.”

Joining Miami in MLS next year is Nashville SC, who have hired a head coach, signed four players to MLS contracts and are currently playing in the USL Championship.

Inter may be behind that pace, but they're running on their own timeline. It's a Miami thing. Fear not, they will have their first player soon enough. They plan for it to be a big bang. 

“We’ll definitely have players signed by the summer," McDonough said, without getting into further details or a more specific timeline for their first player. "I want to make it a surprise.”

For the time being, MLS fans will have to wait and see.

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