Ashley Westwood: Former Burnley midfielder praises Lionel Messi’s impact on MLS | football news

Ashley Westwood says Lionel Messi’s impact in Major League Soccer has been “incredible” and believes enthusiasm for the sport in the USA is growing beyond expectations following his move to Charlotte FC.

The 33-year-old midfielder faced Messi’s Inter Miami in the League Cup quarter-finals in August, with the Argentina international netting in a 4-0 win, one of 11 goals in 11 games he has scored since his arrival. In the Sunshine State.

Messi, alongside Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, helped David Beckham’s club win that competition and also to the Open Cup final, underscoring the hype and excitement that accompanied his signing in the summer transfer window.

Westwood said Sky Sports“Everything he brought to the MLS was unbelievable, I played against some great players in the Premier League but even at his age he is still the greatest I have ever faced.

“Sergio Busquets is in midfield as well, he sees things that others don’t see. Without Busquets, I think Messi will find it a bit more difficult, but he has Busquets in midfield to find him with every pass.

Ashley Westwood tackles Lionel Messi, Inter Miami player

“Playing against him was a real honor but he got the best of us, so hopefully we will do well when he comes to us!”

Charlotte was founded as an MLS club just three years ago by businessman and Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper and they share a stadium with the NFL team Bank of America Stadium that sees regular attendance of 35,000 to 40,000 for MLS games.

Westwood shares a dressing room with former Burnley and Rangers winger Scott Arfield as well as former Derby and Wigan right-back Nathan Byrne and Polish duo Kamil Jozwiak and Karol Swiderski.

The Charlotte captain admits he has been “surprised” by the level of football in MLS and feels his Premier League experience in 286 appearances for Burnley and Aston Villa over 10 seasons will be beneficial to the team.

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With the help of artificial intelligence, we are able to hear Lionel Messi speak fluent English – what does that sound like to you?

Westwood said: “It was unbelievable, everything I expected and more. The stadiums, the level of football, it was amazing and it surprised me.”

“They’re doing a great job here, they’ve got a World Cup here in a few years, so the number is definitely going up. The number of young kids I see playing at all the soccer camps, it’s increased really, really fast.”

“Nate (Nathan Byrne), Andy Coy (assistant coach), Aaron Hyde (goalkeeping coach) are all English and Scott Arfield as well, and the American boys are unbelievable and very professional. The way they carry themselves, you can see they have been brought up well by the system.” the college.

“I wasn’t expecting to get the captaincy, but it was a real honor to lead this club, it’s a big club too. I’m really honored and I want to stay here for the long future and have a big opportunity.” Part of it, it’s very new.

He added: “The young players (in the team) always ask how some of the players are in the Premier League, and they have followed it all their lives, and it is good to give them an idea of ​​​​the Premier League, they absolutely love it.”

Ashley Westwood is living his life in Major League Soccer with Charlotte FC
Ashley Westwood is living his life in Major League Soccer with Charlotte FC

Westwood, who took over from Christian Fuchs as club captain earlier this year, swapped Lancashire for North Carolina in January and feels he has revamped his career in the United States after seeing his time with Burnley end affected by a long-term ankle injury.

He added: “It probably took me about 18 months to fully get back to where I was, and it was only about two months before I felt back to my best.”

“I was in a really bad place, it was a terrible injury. I had never had any injury before, the most I had been out was 10 days due to a muscle strain.”

“Nick McCarthy, my physio at Burnley, helped me keep going, big shout out to him. I think I drove him crazy but he got through me.”

“When the move to Charlotte came, it gave me a new lease on life, a new challenge and an adventure. As a family we always talked about playing overseas and coming to America, and I thoroughly enjoyed and embraced that.

“I still feel like I can play forever, and I still feel like I’m 20 again. It’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

“It took a while but I got there in the end. For me, it’s about the intensity of the league, it’s non-stop and anyone can beat anyone. I’ve got the ‘DPs’ (Designated Players). It’s a tough league but I’m really enjoying it.” “And the family as well, and we are enjoying every second.”

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Free viewing: Highlights of the English Premier League match between Burnley and Tottenham.

Westwood’s arrival in Charlotte also coincided with a tragedy the club is still reeling from after defender Anton Woakes died in a boating accident before the start of the season.

He added: “We’ve had a tough start. We had a tragedy in pre-season and it still bothers everyone. I don’t think we’ll ever get over that, we take it everywhere we go.”

“He’s all over the changing room, he’s on every shirt. His girlfriend and kids are still a big part of things at the club and the wives and girlfriends have brought them in, and that’s what it’s all about. We’re creating a family club here.”

Regarding the level of the club, Westwood said: “We started to perform slowly, and the way we started in the League Cup was good, and we were making trips back and forth to Dallas and that was kind of the catalyst for our season.

“We have dominated the last three games, we have dominated LA Galaxy, we had a good performance at home against Orlando. We are getting there, we are not far from the playoffs. We have a tough game on Saturday against D.C. United and if we win we will put ourselves in the Great position.”

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Highlights of the Carabao Cup second round match between Nottingham Forest and Burnley.

Former club Westwood take on Nottingham Forest, live monday night football, After defeats against Manchester City, Aston Villa and Tottenham after their return to the first division.

Despite Burnley’s poor start to the Premier League, they are backing former coach Vincent Kompany to avoid relegation this season and regroup themselves to continue the success after last season towards the Championship title.

Monday, September 18 at 6:30 p.m

Departure at 7:45 pm

“Premier League matches are played in the morning here because we are five hours late, so when I wake up I play Prem matches,” Westwood said.

“Vincent Kompany did a fantastic job, he was great with me letting me come here. He was hoping I would play but I wanted a new challenge and he was great about that.”

“It was a difficult start, I watched their game against Manchester City and I thought they were excellent and deserved much more. It’s one of those things in football, City have unbelievable players who can put on a show.

Ashley Westwood spent six seasons at Burnley
Ashley Westwood spent six seasons at Burnley

“I think Burnley will be OK, the Premier League is a different animal and they can be punished easily, but I hope they can build on the great season they had last year by trying to survive and then build again.

“His aura, he’s an unbelievable guy and a great human being. The work he did and the way he got them to play was exceptional.”

“I was there to take my son to training at the academy at Burnley and Vinnie was still there working at 10pm at night and not turning off, so he’s definitely putting the work in where people won’t see it and hopefully he gets rewarded for that.”

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