TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Report
Josef Martinez broke the MLS single-season goalscoring record on Friday, and looks likely to push that statistic to new heights as he continues to maintain an unprecedented strike rate for league-leading Atlanta United.
Little surprise, then, that the Venezuelan international is being closely watched by clubs in some of the biggest leagues in the world.
FOX commentator and retired MLS and U.S. men’s national team player Stuart Holden revealed some new information on that front during Sunday’s broadcast of Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders, discussing the situation in detail at halftime.
“I can confirm there is serious interest from [Spain's] La Liga, from the English Premier League and then also Ligue 1 in France for Josef Martinez,” said Holden, who went on to question whether any potential transfer fee would be high enough to pry the striker away from the trophy-chasing Five Stripes during the current European summer window, which closes across most of the continent in the coming days.
“Let's bring it back to Atlanta United, who have skyrocketed to the top of being the gold standard in Major League Soccer with what they are doing on the field and off the field,” he continued. “Right now [they are] the best team in the league. They have an owner in Arthur Blank who has a bankroll that is significant and also believes in and wants a winning team. So goalscorers like Josef Martinez – who right now has produced the best goalscoring season in Major League Soccer history – they are hard to find. These guys are gems.”
ATLUTD acquired Martinez from Serie A side Torino last year, initially on loan and later permanently for an undisclosed transfer fee. He’s scored 47 goals and five assists in 46 regular-season appearances (43 starts) to date.
“Where am I? I’m here in Atlanta. I’m happy,” said Martinez last month. “I don’t pay attention to those rumors or anything. I live in the present. I don’t think about the future. So right now I’m happy in Atlanta and happy with my teammates."
Last fall MLSsoccer.com’s Sam Stejskal reported that Atlanta had turned down a $10 million offer from a unnamed European club, and earlier this year the Venezuelan was said to be a target of Mexican powerhouse Club América. Head coach Tata Martino and other Atlanta decision-makers have repeatedly downplayed any possibility of Martinez being sold in the near future, and Holden suggested that will remain the case.
“If that price tag, whatever it might be – $15, 20, 25 million – is it worth it for Atlanta United and Arthur Blank to say ‘we want to take that,’ or do you keep Martinez and pay him big money and keep him at Atlanta United and make sure you continue to win games and you are the best team in Major League Soccer?” said Holden.
“What I have heard is no, and they will keep a hold of him. There’s a couple days left in the transfer window. Does he stay or go? My money says he stays at Atlanta United and they compete for an MLS Cup.”