Pity Martinez joins Atlanta United from River Plate: Grading the move for MLS' newest superstar
The Argentine midfielder is one of the top players in South America
Atlanta United finally announced the signing of star Argentine midfielder Pity Martinez from River Plate on Wednesday, ending the worst kept secret in the world of MLS transfers. A lot of folks in the U.S. will be quickly introduced to Martinez's style of play once he gets on the field with Atlanta. Here is an introduction and our grades on the move:
Who is Martinez?
The 25-year-old, fresh off of winning the Copa Libertadores (South American version of the Champions League), was named the best player in South America in 2018. That's huge, and it speaks volumes. That's a prize that in the past has been won by the likes of Ronaldinho, Neymar and Carlos Tevez. He's not currently at the level of any of them, but he is a fantastic young player that should be in contention for league MVP right away.
Martinez began his career at Buenos Aires club Huracan from 2011 to 2015 before earning the move to River Plate, one of Argentina's biggest clubs. He has twice played for the Argentina national team, even scoring his first goal for them in a friendly against Guatemala played in Los Angeles in September of last year.
Here are his highlights:
The move for Atlanta United
This is a fantastic move for Atlanta United, though it means they'll have to rid themselves of one of their Designated Players. With Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron and Ezequiel Barco currently on the roster, one will have to leave as you can only have three. The most likely is Almiron, who has been linked for a while now with a move to Newcastle. Barco is potentially another possibility, with reports in Argentina linking him to a possible return on loan to Independiente after a poor first season with the Five Stripes. You can watch select Atlanta United matches on fuboTV (Try for free). Either way, Atlanta gets a creative player who can give you 10 goals and 10 assists a season and brings quality when it comes to set pieces and is as speedy as can be. Don't be shocked if he makes an Almiron-like impact.
The move for Martinez
I see Martinez as a player who has more than enough skills to land with a European club. But you have to respect his decision to join MLS, and it speaks volumes about where the league is headed. This isn't a 33-year-old joining to earn a quick paycheck. This is a guy in his prime, someone who has represented the Argentine national team and is coming into the league more established than Almiron and Martinez. It's a good move for him, especially since it is on the one he wants, but it's hard not to argue the side of him potentially playing in Europe.
The move for River Plate
The transfer fee is unclear, but reports out of Argentina in December said it could be as high as $14 million. It's safe to say River got at least $10 million out of it, probably more, but surely they could have gotten more from a European club. When it comes to these moves, the player has to agree for it to go through, accepting contract terms. So with Martinez so adamant on going to MLS, it would have been tough for River to say no.
Without Martinez, River just lost back-to-back games at home for the first time since 2013.
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