Lionel Messi has been nominated for the MLS 2023 MVP and Newcomer of the Season Awards despite playing only 4 games for Inter Miami

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Lionel Messi has been included among the nominees for Major League Soccer‘s 2023 MVP Award – despite playing in just four league matches for Inter Miami.

The Argentine superstar landed in Miami in July and immediately got to work in the Leagues Cup, helping his team to the trophy.

In the regular league season, though, Messi has started just three times, coming off the bench in one further appearance – and has missed the last four games through injury.

Despite that, he has been included among the 30-man shortlist for the ‘Landon Donovan MLS MVP’ award, alongside Miami teammate Sergio Busquets, as well as the 27 listed players for the Newcomer of the Year trophy.

Other players in the league have featured in as many as 32 MLS games this season, leading to some questions from fans over whether Messi deserves his place among the greats quite yet.

Lionel Messi dribbles with the ball during one of his four MLS appearances this season

The Argentine superstar has missed the last four Inter Miami matches through injury

There is no doubt about the commercial impact the World Cup winner has had on MLS, with jersey sales through the roof and an Apple TV docuseries on his arrival soon to drop.

On the field, Messi has scored one MLS goal and provided two further assists, his only strike coming in the game away at New York Red Bulls when he came off the bench in the second half.

Among the other big names nominated for the MLS MVP award are Messi’s Argentina teammate Thiago Almada, his former Barcelona teammate Riqui Puig, and current top scorer, LAFC’s Denis Bouanga.

He impressed in the Leagues Cup, helping Inter Miami to lift the first trophy in its history

Messi and his wife Antonela are continuing to settle into their new life in South Florida

Messi has not played for Inter Miami since he was forced off 37 minutes into last month’s 4-0 win over Toronto.

He has since sat out of the draw against Florida rivals Orlando City, as well as a defeat in the US Open Cup final to Houston Dynamo, another draw to New York City, and then Wednesday night’s chastening 4-1 defeat by Chicago Fire.

The most recent result was a huge blow to Inter Miami’s faint playoff hopes, with the team now five points off a wildcard spot with just three matches to play.

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