March is just around the corner and Inter Miami still do not have a head coach. Recent reports have put to bed the rumors circling the hire of River Plate’s Marcelo Gallardo, but could he still be headed to Miami in 2020?
With only a few months away until the MLS season opener, Inter Miami CF are still without a head coach. While it was highly expected that former D.C. United midfielder and current River Plate boss, Marcelo Gallardo, would be named the club’s first-ever hire, the rumors had receded following reports that Gallardo would instead remain with River Plate in 2020.
These reports seemed convincing as he had helped lead the Argentine side into becoming one of the most dominant clubs in the Western Hemisphere. But after Jillian Sakovits of mlssoccer.com reported that the same man who provided input in the expansion draft is still the lead candidate who Inter Miami expects to announce before January 1st, Gallardo is no longer totally out of the picture.
While others had predicted that Gallardo could still be a likely candidate, as of writing, I am confident that Marcelo Gallardo will be leading Inter Miami CF in 2020 for a number of reasons.
For one, the timing of Sakovits’ report seems to line up with an imminent hiring of Gallardo. While it was expected that the announcement would be made shortly after the Copa Libertadores final on November 23rd, Miami instead remained silent following the result. But on December 13th, River Plate played their final game of the year, which resulted in a Copa Argentina championship win.
Following this final, the report from Sakovits stating that Miami would soon name a head coach came only three days later. It is common for coaches to pour water on rumors, particularly when heading into big games, so it isn’t surprising that Gallardo would stay true to his team by refuting the reports until his club’s final match. And so, with River Plate now entering a break in play until mid-January, waiting until this offseason to bring in Gallardo may have been Inter Miami’s agreed-upon plan all along. If this is the case, Sakovits’ tweet coming just days after River’s last game is not just a coincidence.
Along with the timing of the latest report, a number of Miami’s rumored Designated Player signings also foreshadow that Gallardo may be pulling strings behind the club’s roster build. Many of these potential signings are reputed to be coming from River Plate. While some of the biggest names in soccer, including Lionel Messi, David Silva, and Edinson Cavani, have all been alleged to be heading to South Florida, the most realistic names that have been linked to the club have included Ignacio Fernandez, Exequiel Palacios, and Juan Fernando Quintero, all of whom suit up for River Plate. The midfield trio have the name recognition and star power to not only become appealing marquee signings for Inter Miami, but the odds of their transfers to the MLS side instantly become a lot more feasible if their current head coach is playing an active role in their recruitment.
The state of Inter Miami’s current roster indicates that the acquisition of one or two DP signings is on the horizon, and the club have yet to address any of the positions that Fernandez, Palacios, and Quintero play. Waiting this long for an expansion team with the funding and resources that Miami has to make marquee signings is uncharacteristic based on what we’ve seen in recent years from Atlanta and LAFC. Based on this trend, if Gallardo was waiting for his final game of the year with River Plate to play out before heading to the United States, the club may have been waiting for the end of the year to sell on their players as well. If this is the case, don’t be surprised to see one or two of these players sporting the black and pink kits shortly after unveiling Gallardo.
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Also, if the plan wasn’t to wait for Gallardo to finish the year before joining Miami, wouldn’t Miami have hired a different coach by now? Sure, deals fall through at the last minute all the time in soccer, but is the opportunity to work with David Beckham and a wealthy ownership group to build a club from scratch in a city like Miami really that hard of a sell to an available coach? Miami received their expansion bid in January of 2017, giving them almost two years to make an official hire, and like with their DP signings, it is unprecedented for an expansion side with a makeup that compares to Atlanta United and LAFC to wait this long to hire a coach. If a hire still hasn’t been made, they must have been waiting for someone, and that someone was Gallardo.
Lastly, the biggest tell towards Gallardo’s unmasking comes at the end of Sakovits’ tweet, where she states that the candidate to be announced would be the same that was hinted during the expansion draft on November 19th. While this doesn’t reveal a whole lot to those following along, it still begs the question as to why Inter Miami has waited until the end of December to announce the hire of a candidate if they had participated in the expansion draft back in November. If the candidate couldn’t be announced at the time, there must have been some on-going circumstance that would have prevented that announcement, and with Sakovits’ tweet coming days after the Copa Argentina final, all arrows point back to Gallardo yet again.
And so, the reports may claim that Marcelo Gallardo is not going to leave River Plate, and Gallardo himself may have rejected the Inter Miami. But regardless of what has been said in the media and by Gallardo, dig a little deeper and the narrative is clear: Marcelo Gallardo will be leading Inter Miami in 2020.