Javi Martinez brings down the curtain on nine hugely successful years with Bayern Munich this summer, doing so safe in the knowledge Joshua Kimmich can ensure even more success at the record champions following his departure.
Since Martinez moved to Munich from Athletic Bilbao for a then club-record fee in 2012, the Bavarians have won the Bundesliga every single season. The versatile defensive midfielder has also lifted two UEFA Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA World Club Cups during a golden era for Bayern, yet he believes the man who has stepped into his position in recent years has the potential to eclipse all those achievements.
Kimmich moved from his original full-back role into a defensive midfield position, which Martinez says nobody on the planet fills better than the 26-year-old Germany international.
When asked by kicker magazine who the best No6 in the world is, Martinez did not have to hesitate. "Josh, maybe followed by Casemiro and N'golo Kante," he said.
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Martinez, who says he has not yet decided where he will be playing next season, will leave Munich after almost a decade filled with the fondest of memories. "It was an honour and I am always going to be Bayern's biggest fan," he said, thanking above all Jupp Heynckes for signing him.
"I will always be grateful that he brought me here and desperately wanted me," Martinez said. "He called me and said 'I want you to be an important part of Bayern Munich.'"
That he was, winning a Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Champions League treble at the end of his first season. "It's incredible if you think about it," said the Spaniard. "People often think that it's easy, but it's actually very complicated and there's a lot of hard work that goes into it on a daily basis. I had always dreamed of winning this [Champions League] trophy, and there I was, winning it at the end of my first season."
He won it again in 2020, together with Kimmich - a man Martinez believes can now go on to enjoy even greater success in years to come, as the best in the world in his position.
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