Atlanta United have finally filled their third Designated Player slot, and they have done so by signing yet another young and talented player from South America.
Venezuelan international forward Josef Martinez has been signed on loan as a DP, Atlanta United announced on Thursday morning. The 23-year-old Martinez joins the expansion MLS club from Torino FC in Italy's top flight, and his loan comes with an option to buy.
Martinez will occupy the final Designated Player spot on Atlanta United's roster ahead of their debut season, joining Argentine winger Hector Villalba (22) and Paraguayan midfielder Miguel Almiron (22) as players to hold that distinction.
“We’re excited to have acquired another player who’s entering the prime of his career and who has already experienced top competition in Europe and South America,” Atlanta United president Darren Eales said in a written statement. “Between Serie A, Europa League and various international competitions with the Venezuelan national team, Josef has already proven himself on some of the biggest stages in our sport and we’re confident in his ability to make a difference in MLS.”
On top of playing for Torino during the past two-and-a-half seasons, Martinez has represented Swiss sides Young Boys and FC Thun as well as Caracas in his native land during his career. Internationally, Martinez has earned 37 caps and scored nine times since debuting for Venezuela in 2011. He currently has four tallies in CONMEBOL's World Cup qualifying campaign for Russia 2018.
Martinez's most recent campaign with Torino saw him score once in 11 matches. He has a combined seven goals in 58 Serie A appearances with the Italian club.
“I'm very happy to be here, this is a great project,” Martinez said in the same statement released by the club. “I was able to see the training ground and the stadium that the club is building, and I knew that coming to Atlanta was the best decision. Also, there is a great coaching staff and remarkable young players. I can’t wait to start to work with my new teammates.”