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Lionel Messi: Inter Miami's Robert Taylor on playing alongside the World Cup winner

Lionel Messi's Inter Miami arrival has ben a dream for many at David Beckham's MLS club; Rob Taylor speaks to Sky Sports about life playing with the former Barcelona and PSG star

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Inter Miami's Robert Taylor discusses the impact Lionel Messi has had since joining the club from Paris Saint-Germain

Playing with Lionel Messi is something that every football fan dreams of - but for Rob Taylor, once of non-League Lincoln City, that dream is a reality.

The 28-year-old Finland international joined Inter Miami last year, but surely would not have expected to be playing alongside the World Cup hero with seven Ballon d'Or trophies.

Taylor and Messi put on a stellar show as Miami thrashed Atlanta 4-0 last week, netting a couple of goals each, with Taylor setting up the Argentine's second before scoring a thunderous strike himself.

Naturally, when asked about his new team-mate, Taylor says "it's a dream come true".

"I've watched him play all my life at the highest level, and now, to play with him and to be in the same team as him is crazy," the 28-year-old told Sky Sports.

"You watch him train and play every day and try and learn from him.

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"His decision-making is unbelievable - I can't see him doing a wrong decision at all during the game or training, so you just want to try and learn.

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"He comes to me and tells me how he wants me positioned in different situations."

Is Messi learning English?

Lionel Messi scored twice as Inter Miami  beat Atlanta United
Image: Messi's English is 'pretty good', according to team-mate Taylor

Messi has rarely publicly spoken in a language other than Spanish, but Taylor has indicated we may hear Messi talking English soon.

"I'm taking Spanish lessons and he's taking English lessons," said the Finn, whose father, Paul, was an English player in Finland.

"Still, the conversation level isn't great, but, on the field, it's different.

"I feel like football is a language where if you link up with someone, you don't necessarily have to speak the same language - you just play well together.

"I've heard him say a couple things in English to me and couple of players around him, so I think he speaks pretty good English."

How does playing with Messi change a club?

Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi (10) celebrates with his teammates after scoring late in the second half of a Leagues Cup soccer match against Cruz Azul, Friday, July 21, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Inter Miami defeated Cruz Azul 2-1. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Image: Messi is set to play his third game for Inter Miami on Wednesday night

The presence of Messi in Miami has injected a new lease of life into an already vibrant MLS franchise, and the 21,000-capacity DRV PNK Stadium has twice been sold out as fans come to catch a moment of magic.

"Of course, it's brought a lot of new energy to the team, the club and the fans," said Taylor.

"The stadium is sold out, and it's really great right now.

"We all enjoy it [the bigger atmosphere] - everyone wants to play in front of as many fans as there can be, so when it's sold out, it's great."

On who the coolest person he had met at the Inter Miami matches in the past few weeks, Taylor's response was not LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kim Kardashian, IShowSpeed or even DJ Khaled.

LA Lakers superstar LeBron James hugs Lionel Messi before the soccer legend's debut for Inter Miami (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Image: LA Lakers superstar LeBron James hugs Messi before the soccer legend's debut for Inter Miami

"Leo is the coolest," grinned the Argentine's fan-come-colleague.

"There's some celebrities watching but Messi is the No 1."

While Messi has brought the energy and the eyeballs, things around the club are mainly unchanged - although Taylor and his team-mates are grateful for their new captain's arriving gift.

"I don't think there's too many changes - there's more security," said the 28-year-old.

"But, before the first game, we all got the Dr Dre Beats headphones from him, so that was really nice."

Dealing with the spotlight in Miami

Inter Miami midfielder Robert Taylor (16) celebrates a goal during the second half of a Leagues Cup soccer match against Atlanta United, Tuesday, July 25, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Image: Taylor celebrates scoring in Inter Miami's 4-0 victory over Atlanta

Taylor, who admits he once struggled to get regular football in England, has seen his celebrity grow almost overnight, with his Instagram followers nearing 100,000.

Despite the global spotlight shining brighter on him than he could have ever imagined, he says his life has changed "not that much".

"Maybe my social media has been gaining higher numbers, but I have people around me - my friends and my family - who make sure that I don't get too high up myself.

"They bring me down and I like that.

"I don't see it as too big of a change - I just played two games where I've scored goals.

"There's loads more games to come so I've got to keep my feet on the ground and work hard."

Messi, Taylor and the rest of Inter Miami take on Orlando on Wednesday in the Leagues Cup, one of two knock-out tournaments in which they compete alongside their MLS campaign.

Miami's No 16 will hope to continue on his journey from struggling in England to shining with Messi - quite how a "dream come true" can get better, Taylor will find out.

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