After starring in River Plate's exhilarating Copa Libertadores triumph, Gonzalo "Pity" Martinez wasn't short on suitors for his services.
Martinez, nearing his prime at 25 years old, appears set to spurn Europe and join Atlanta United. He arrived at that decision after considering many factors, not least of which how badly ATLUTD pursued him for his services.
“I made the decision together with my family," Martinez told Radio Continental in an interview. "It was time to take the next step [forward] in my career. I saw the US league in a positive light. They showed me a mountain of things. … It was tough for me to decide. But the European teams were not as eager to sign me, to pay the amount of money River wanted, but this club [Atlanta] did, they trusted in me.”
According to reporter Juan Arango, ATLUTD finalized their deal to sign Martinez in October, triggering his €15 million release clause. Atlanta have yet to officially announce that Martinez will join the club.
“A month ago we gave the ‘OK,’ that River was ready, that it worked for them," Martinez said. "Afterwards, on the footballing side, [the decision] was all mine.”
Martinez scored three goals in River Plate's run to the Copa Libertadores title. He has scored 22 league goals and 14 assists since joining the Argentine giants in January 2015.
“I am a man of my word," Martinez asserted. "We made the decision, we gave the ‘OK’, and from there everything went step-by-step. Without difficulties. I believe the people from [Atlanta] are very serious. I liked this a lot and it convinced me.“
Martinez knows that he departs River Plate in good spirits, as a champion.
“I’m leaving River on a high note," Martinez said. "I had many difficult moments here. They are things that stay in the past, but they were reality. I leave as a winner, and that’s very difficult for a player. In soccer there are more sad moments than happy ones. But I’ve been part of many titles for River. I’m going to go out on a high note, and also with the gratitude of River fans.”