Atlanta United's big winter acquisition is officially in the fold, with Pity Martinez joining the MLS Cup champion.
Atlanta United's big winter acquisition is officially in the fold, with midfielder star Gonzalo "Pity" Martinez joining the MLS Cup champion after a stellar run at Argentine powerhouse River Plate.
Martinez's signing has been expected for some time, with the player claiming he'd be leaving River Plate for Atlanta immediately after winning the Copa Libertadores title. He arrived in Atlanta earlier this week, with United fans there to greet him ahead of his presumed signing. Martinez, who scored River's final goal in extra time of the second leg to ice the triumph over rival Boca Juniors in a final marred by chaos and controversy, becomes Atlanta's latest South American splash following the success of Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron and last season's record signing of Argentine teenage midfielder Ezequiel Barco.
“We’re excited to announce we’ve secured Gonzalo to a long-term contract with our club,” Atlanta technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a statement. “Recently named as the best player in South America in 2018, Gonzalo is an attacking player who can play wide or centrally. His abilities complement our style of play and we expect him to make a smooth transition to MLS.”
The 25-year-old Martinez is the second major addition to Atlanta following the hiring of manager Frank de Boer as Tata Martino's replacement. Which one of Atlanta's Designated Players Martinez replaces is the big question going forward. He is a DP–reports suggested the club broke its own MLS transfer fee record to acquire him–and Atlanta will need to make room on its roster to stay within the limit of three DPs allowed per club. Josef Martinez, the league's reigning MVP, just signed a five-year extension with the club, meaning either Almiron or Barco will need to depart. Almiron, who remains under contract through 2020, has long been rumored to go to Europe this winter, but the transfer window has just a week left for clubs overseas to acquire him.
It's a problem that will draw little sympathy from Atlanta's competitors, who now have another superstar to mark.
“I’m very excited to come to Major League Soccer and to join Atlanta United,” Martínez said. “The club has shown a lot of trust in me and I’m looking forward to working with Frank de Boer and my teammates to continue making history at the club.”