FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- New Inter Miami CF left back Jordi Alba admitted Tuesday that he had other, more lucrative offers but that his move to Miami was about more than money and that he was excited to reunite with his former Barcelona teammates.
"Despite the offers I had for more money, the priority for me was to feel important," Alba said during his official unveiling ceremony at DRV PNK Stadium. "I think I made the right decision. This is the club that tried the hardest to get me."
Understandably, the 34-year-old who captained Spain to a Nations League title earlier this summer and is seven appearances away from 100 international caps, was excited to be back playing with his two former Barcelona teammates -- Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets -- as well as Martino, his former coach at Spotify Camp Nou.
"I am very happy to reunite with Leo and Busi here at Inter Miami. Not just us three as players but there is a group of players here who are also very good who will help us and us them so that we win all the games we play," said Alba, who has only a couple of training sessions under his belt, and so may see limited action -- if any -- in Miami's home Leagues Cup round of 32 game against rivals Orlando City on Wednesday.
"We know Tata [Gerardo Martino], he knows us. I am a very competitive player, and this project is very familiar. That's why I made decision to come here. I've only been here three or four days, but it feels like I've been here all my life."
Alba's arrival in the United States came slightly later than Messi and Busquets due to the birth of his son, Paolo, last month and a wait for his visa paperwork to be completed.
He hinted he may still be able to contribute against Orlando though, as he was training hard on his own for a couple of weeks in Barcelona before crossing the Atlantic.
"I feel physically OK, but I have to adapt to weather first. It's significant," said Alba, who will have trained in feels-like temperatures well over 100 degrees F since arriving.
Once up to speed, Alba is fully expected to start on the left side of the Miami back four, a position local 19-year-old Noah Allen has seen most of the action at since Argentine Franco Negri tore his ACL in late June.
"'Tata' is a veteran coach and he knows the league," Alba said. "He has helped me a lot, given me confidence. We have some players who want to continue competing and winning, and this is right place for that."
More importantly, Alba will not take up one of the valuable designated player spots on Miami's roster, as Messi, Busquets and Leo Campana already take up the maximum three DP positions on the roster.
Alba will instead be considered a TAM (Targeted Allocation Money) player, an MLS rule that allows a team to use imaginary funds given to them at the start of a season (or via trade) to pay players more than the maximum salary budget charge ($651,250 this season) and up to $1.65 million.
Alba added that the chance to again work with Martino was another factor in his decision to join Miami.
"Tata is a veteran coach and he knows the league," said Alba. "He has helped me a lot, given me confidence. We have some players who want to continue competing and winning, and this is right place for that."
After emerging victorious in their first two games since the arrival of the GOAT, Miami will undoubtedly a very stiff test on Wednesday in a Florida derby against an Orlando team that sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and has lost only two of its last 15 matches in all competitions.
Martino admitted he was having a tough time understanding MLS rivalries and derbies.
"When I coached in Atlanta, I was told our derby was against Orlando!" said Martino. "Now it's with Inter! This team knows how to play in this league and is very well organized. This isn't a normal [league] match. You can't have mistakes or you'll be out of the competition."
If Mazatlan wins, Miami or Orlando would host next week, as all Mexican sides will travel to any MLS opponent in this entire tournament.
Following the signing of Alba, Miami has added a trio of players using MLS' U-22 initiative -- midfielders Diego Gomez and Facundo Farías and, on Tuesday, center back Tomás Avilés from Argentina's Racing Club.