Rodolfo Pizarro isn't going anywhere according to Phil Neville, and the first-year Inter Miami CF coach says he's done addressing the topic.
Pizarro's future has been the subject of speculation in recent weeks, with potential returns to Liga MX with Monterrey and Chivas Guadalajara among the possible destinations floated for the 25-year-old attacker. Pizarro hasn't featured in an MLS match since May 16 and has no goals and one assist through 378 minutes this season. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, however, Neville maintained that the reason Pizarro hasn't been in the lineup is just because he's injured, and not because he's fallen out of favor or that he's unhappy at the club.
Pizarro, who suffered a hip/adductor injury just over three weeks ago and hasn't trained since, departed the club to join the Mexico national team in Denver but hasn't played in any matches for El Tri.
"No there isn't [a chance Pizarro is transferred], and I'm going to stop you there, because there's no possibility of Rodolfo leaving this football club," Neville said on Thursday. "He's an Inter Miami player. He's injured at this moment in time. We can't stop the speculation, but the speculation why he's not playing, it's because he's injured, and he's gone away with Mexico and he's injured. So I'm not going to answer any more questions on Rodolfo Pizarro. I think I've spoke and I've told you many times how he's a big part of what we want to do here and he's happy here."
Neville said that both Pizarro and forward Robbie Robinson (hamstring) will remain sidelined for Saturday’s game at D.C. United (8 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+), but maintained that there's nothing more to be read into Pizarro's absence, other than that he needs to work his way back to full health.
"The boy's injured. Let's not read too much into the speculation that any of you guys are writing about: He's injured," Neville said. "He's been out injured now for three and a half weeks, he's not been on the grass for three and a half weeks, so we need to get him back to his full fitness, we need to get him back to making sure that he's pain-free and then he will be a great Inter Miami player."
Neville also addressed a much-discussed interview with Gonzalo Higuain, in which the DP forward discussed his preconceptions of MLS before his arrival last season with fellow former Italian international Christian Vieri. Higuain's quote that thought he would come to MLS "and play with a cigarette in my mouth" made the rounds on social media, but Neville said that he didn't feel that Higuain intended the remark as any sort of slight on the league, but rather as a compliment regarding how high the level has been since his arrival.
"The thing I always think about when you're doing an interview, I think he did the interview with Christian Vieri, one of his close friends and a fellow footballer — when you get into an environment where you speak honestly, and we want footballers to speak honestly and not just give standard answers, and maybe the perception in other parts of the world is that this league is easier," Neville said. "But I think the biggest compliment in the interview that I saw was that he said that it's really, really difficult.
"And I totally agree, I think it's one of the hardest leagues to win and compete because of the different levels of environment, climates, the travel, the level of the teams are all similar," he continued. "So I think he was actually giving a compliment and actually talking open and honest about maybe it starts beforehand about what you thought it was going to be like. Ultimately, I think he's under no illusions now, the work that's needed for him to perform, the work that's needed for him to be successful and how difficult this league is. And I've known it for a long, long time about when those big DP players come from around the world that if you do not commit 100 percent, if you do not focus on everything, then you'll get found out. And I think Gonzalo's learned that over the last year he's been at this football club."