Josef Martinez reveals role Phil Neville played in Inter Miami transfer

Chris Smith
Phil Neville pushed hard to bring Martinez to Florida.
Phil Neville pushed hard to bring Martinez to Florida. / Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Josef Martinez has revealed head coach Phil Neville was the key driver behind his move to Inter Miami.

The Herons announced the transfer on Wednesday, buying out the remainder of Martinez's contract with Atlanta using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM).

Despite a souring relationship in the last 18 months, Martinez leaves Atlanta United a legend and arguably the most important player in club history, arriving ahead of their inaugural 2017 campaign and going on to score a club-record 111 goals in 158 games across all competitions.

The Venezuela international won MLS Cup, US Open Cup, and Campeones Cup titles with Atlanta United, while he won the MLS MVP and Golden Boot awards in 2018. As such, he transcended the sport to become an iconic figure around the city of Atlanta.

However, despite his status, Martinez has now revealed a move to Inter Miami had long been a possibility, even down to some casual conversations with Neville following clashes with Atlanta.

"I had a conversation when I was in Atlanta with Phil after we played them a couple times," Martinez told reporters. "He tried to say ‘Oh you have to come here.’ I said, 'One day, this is possible.'"

It's hardly surprising Miami and Neville wanted to sign Martinez. After all, the 29-year-old scored on every single appearance against the Herons, totaling four goals and an assist in four games with three wins and a draw.

Clearly, Neville wanted to protect his own defense by adding its worst enemy to his own forward line.

"Phil I think was the person who insisted the most [in signing me]," Martinez addded. "He insisted and we’re here. I think it was a big piece of why we’re here. Since everything is new, you have to start little by little to get to know everyone. But they’ve opened the door for me, I’m one part of the team.

"We’re soccer players and we want to win. We’re all competitive and I think that’s the most beautiful thing. I think it’s a beautiful group and I’m waiting for the first game."