Busquets: Pressure in U.S. different to Europe

One day before his expected debut in Inter Miami colors, former Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets sat down with the media Thursday alongside his new — and former — coach, Gerardo “Tata” Martino.

As expected, the newly-turned 35-year-old was quizzed plenty about his feelings regarding the move from a world-famous football institution to the last-placed club in Major League Soccer.

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“In terms of football, I have only been here a short time,” said Busquets in his new club’s current home of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “I have only been here three days but it is another culture. It is more spectacle in that it does not depend so much on whether you win or lose, but at the end it is the path that takes you there and what you accomplish during that time.

“It is very different from the pressure and what they can ask of you in Spain and in Europe in general.”

Luckily for Busquets, he will have a couple of long-time teammates to share this new experience with.

He was introduced alongside Lionel Messi at a rain-soaked DRV PNK Stadium on Sunday, and the team officially announced the signing of left-back Jordi Alba on Thursday. Rumors have also continued to fly regarding the possibility of Luis Suárez and Andrés Iniesta making their way to South Florida.

The first action in pink and black for Messi and Busquets is expected to come in Friday’s sold-out Leagues Cup group game against Cruz Azul. Alba’s debut will have to wait, however, as his arrival in South Florida was delayed due to the recent birth of his son, Paolo.

“I had been training in Barca, and I’ve had two or three trainings here, so I’m in good shape, but I need a period to adapt,” said Busquets when asked how much playing time he might see against Cruz Azul. “To play 90 minutes would be practically impossible right now.”

As for Martino, who led Barcelona for one disappointing season in 2013-14, he knows the pressure that adding a trio of legends like this brings with it, even if it won’t likely be anything close to what he experienced at Camp Nou or as a national team head coach.

“It is difficult not to have high expectations. I have expectations,” said Martino, who took the Inter Miami job less than a month ago. “Looking at recent history, Jordi just won the [UEFA] Nations League, Busi won with Barcelona, Messi with PSG and the World Cup, so there is no reason not to get excited.

“If this can transform quickly, and the team dynamic can change and we have that expectation, the logic dictates it will take time, but if we can cut that time… Surely we can get there and we can give ourselves something to dream about in the league in which we are in the worst place.”

Even if Miami doesn’t manage to climb out of the MLS basement and make the playoffs, there are still two pathways to claiming a spot in next year’s Concacaf Champions League.

Three spots are up for grabs in The Leagues Cup, while the U.S. Open Cup winner will also qualify. Martino’s squad will take on FC Cincinnati in the semifinals of that competition in just over a month’s time.

But the potential impact of Miami’s project extends far beyond the field. Asked by ESPN Thursday what the signing of Messi could mean not just for Miami but the U.S. as a whole, Busquets said the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner could be a transformative presence.

“He’s going to have an enormous impact, for the club, for the city, for MLS and all the competitions we would take a part in here,” he told Luis Miguel Echegaray. “So that’s good because at the end the U.S. is the primary power, but I think it can still grow much more in soccer, and Leo’s going to make that happen as quick as possible.

“Hopefully, those of us here can contribute our small part so that it happens that way, and we’re here to achieve it and make that possible.”

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