While Gonzalo Martínez focuses on recovering from the hamstring injury that ruled him out of Argentina’s latest squad and River Plate’s forthcoming Copa Libertadores semi final, Atlanta United have reportedly all but sealed a €15 million move for the highly rated forward.
Talk of the ambitious MLS club matching Martínez’s release clause has been abound for weeks but according to several reports in Argentina that agreement has now been reached after meeting with the player’s agent.
River will of course be disappointed to be losing a player who has grown into a vital part of Marcelo Gallardo’s side and an Argentina international since joining in 2015 for what is a relatively small sum. However, having come close to leaving one year ago and remaining at the Monumental, the 25-year-old opted not to sign a new deal and his €15 million release clause was always going to make Martínez a target.
That was supposed to come from Europe after long standing interest from the likes of Sporting CP, Roma and Lazio but Atlanta United have swooped sealing what would be a tremendous coup.
With Gerardo Martino still in charge, despite reports linking the former Argentina coach with the vacant Mexico job, Atlanta are no strangers to such deals and the arrival of Martínez would almost certainly mean that Miguel Almirón will be leaving.
The Paraguayan departed Lanús as a Primera champion and has since established himself as one of the best players in the MLS. Arsenal have been strongly linked to Almirón and while nothing has been confirmed, Atlanta prepare themselves for his departure. What will undoubtedly soften that blow is the capture of a player with the quality that Martínez possesses.
Atlanta stunned Argentine football with the signing of Ezequiel Barco from Independiente in January and given a difficult first season in the United States will feel that they are still due a lot more from the youngster. However, the signing of an exciting 18-year-old requires patience and the Five Stripes paid a premium for potential.
In Pity Martínez, Atlanta would be signing a player who has already come through difficulties resulting from a big transfer. River Plate paid Huracán the not insignificant sum of $4 million for the youngster in early 2015 and it is safe to say that Martínez was not an immediate success making the switch to one of Argentina’s heavyweights.
His talent was never in question but his frustrating displays that lacked consistency and end product led to supporters almost losing faith in the attacking midfielder.
Eventually silencing his critics, Pity became an integral member of Gallardo’s side and his ability to play on either wing or centrally in an advanced role has been crucial to River’s attack. With pace to burn and a wonderful left foot to shoot from distance, Martínez has contributed a number of important goals over the past few seasons.
Currently in a race to return from injury, Martínez is hopeful to face Grêmio in the Copa Libertadores semi final next week and will be aiming to leave River Plate as a champion of South America for the second time.