Martino named new coach of Inter Miami ahead of Messi arrival

MIAMI, United States | Inter Miami have appointed former Barcelona and Argentina coach Gerardo Martino (picture) to take charge of the Major League Soccer team, setting up a reunion with compatriot Lionel Messi.

Martino, widely known as “Tata,” coached Messi with both the Spanish club and his country’s national team. He was most recently in charge of Mexico and previously worked in MLS with Atlanta United, winning the title in 2018.

Martino’s arrival was widely expected after Miami, rock bottom of the Eastern Conference, fired their English coach Phil Neville.

The 60-year-old will take over the team, from interim Javier Morales, once his work documentation has been completed. 

“We are very happy to be able to welcome Tata to Inter Miami. We feel he is a coach who matches our ambitions as a club and we’re optimistic about what we can accomplish together,” said Inter Miami Managing Owner Jorge Mas.

“Tata has coached at the highest levels and we believe that experience will be hugely beneficial to us as we aim to compete for titles here,” he added.

Messi said earlier this month that he was joining Miami, co-owned by David Beckham, having opted to leave Paris Saint-Germain at the end of his contract.

The 60-year-old Martino played for and coached Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys, where Messi played as a schoolboy.

“Tata is a highly respected figure in our sport whose track record speaks for itself,” said Beckham. 

“We are confident that his achievements in the game and experience as a head coach will inspire our team and excite our fans and look forward to seeing the impact he will have on and off the field”.

The South Florida club also expect to complete the signing of another of Martino’s former charges at Barcelona, Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets and Mas has indicated Miami could bring in as many as five players during the summer transfer window.

Martino has been out of work since his contract with Mexico ended after a disappointing World Cup campaign where El Tri failed to get out of the group stage.

“I’m very excited to join a big club like Inter Miami and I know together we can accomplish many great things,” said Martino. 

“The club has the necessary infrastructure to be a major competitor in the region and I believe that with everyone’s hard work and commitment we can get there,” he said.

Martino made his mark as a coach in Paraguay, leading the national side to the runners-up spot in the 2011 Copa America.

After impressing at Newell’s he had a season in charge of Barca in 2013-14 before taking over the Argentine national side for two years and then joined Atlanta in 2016.

Martino will also be re-united with Venezuelan striker Josef Martinez whose 31 goals in 2018 were crucial to Atlanta’s MLS Cup triumph. – AFP