I love Josef Martinez.
brb Naming my first son Josef— elijah newsome (@Elijah_Newsome) December 9, 2018
If you follow me on Twitter you know that I think that he is the greatest MLS player ever (shutup Zlatan). He’s broken nearly every scoring record in MLS history midway through his 3rd MLS season. He has the most MLS hat tricks, was the fastest to 50 goals, and currently has an MLS Record 15-straight games with a goal. Additionally, Josef broke the MLS scoring record last season with 31 goals, and could do it again this season, as he has 26 goals with a month left in the season.
So yeah, Josef Martinez is dominating the MLS, and is arguably too good for the league. Of course it makes sense that Newcastle United would be interested in the guy that made MLS history with Miguel Almiron by having the most goals scored by a duo in MLS history and also happens to be Miggy’s best friend.
The Chronicle first broke the news that Newcastle was keeping tabs on the Venezuelan this morning, and the news had a positive reaction by many Newcastle fans. The Chronicle claim that Martinez is a guy Newcastle have been scouting in Atlanta United matches as well as national team matches and is on a substantial list of possible targets ahead of the January window. Lee Ryder also writes that this past summer there was interest in Martinez from Everton and some French clubs as well, but none of that interest came to fruition.
From Newcastle’s perspective making a move for Josef Martinez makes sense. He’s the former strike partner of Miguel Almiron, he would likely be cheaper since he is coming from the MLS, and the move is a low risk high reward move considering you have “your guy” in Joelinton. It is the perfect move for Newcastle, which is exactly why it won’t happen.
I mean, I could get into a whole bunch of crap about Josef’s play style and how he would not work with Newcastle’s current team but even if he was the perfect fit for Newcastle, this move would not happen. Simply put, Atlanta United don’t want to part ways with Josef Martinez, and he doesn’t want to part ways with them either.
Why Atlanta Doesn’t Want To Sell Josef
I could simply say the obvious and keep it moving, but I guess for y’all I’ll shed some light on the whole situation.
The obvious thing here is that in terms of pure production, clutch, swag, badassery, and overall likability Josef Martinez is the best player in Atlanta United’s young history. He has all of the club records (because he set them), has scored in every important match for the club, is absolutely adored by fans, and of course he makes Atlanta United a shit ton of money.
Throughout the past 3 seasons there has been one player for Atlanta United that has been consistently great regardless of the situation the club is in and that player is Josef Martinez. Other more expensive, more hyped up, marquee signings like Ezekiel Barco, Pity Martinez and Miguel Almiron have all had disappointing stretches for the club but never Josef. Regardless of the personnel around him, the formation he’s thrown in, the manager who is managing him, and the overall form of the team, Josef always finds a way to be the most impactful player on the pitch for Atlanta United often resulting in him grabbing a goal.
Atlanta simply does not want to lose a player like that, especially when there aren’t many players on their roster with that level of consistency. Every player on that talented roster has had spells of just being absolute hot garbage except Josef, and losing him without a Zlatan or Carlos Vela level replacement leaves Atlanta United in a tough position.
As much as Atlanta United’s owner Arthur Blank (Uncle Arthur) wants to make money, he wants success of his teams even more. Plus, he kinda makes a lot of money owning a team in a league like the NFL who generates $14 billion in revenue every year that they divvy up to the owners. Uncle Arthur, and Atlanta United know that for the time being their sustained level of success relies on Josef Martinez staying in Atlanta.
The other thing to consider is that Atlanta has already done business with Newcastle before, and while this is usually a good thing in football because it means you have already established relationships with people at the club you want to buy from, in the case of Newcastle this is likely a negative thing.
Newcastle’s pursuit of Miguel Almiron involved consistently low balling Atlanta United to the point where MLS fans were unsure whether the deal would actually get done. The way Miggy’s agent has spoken about the process and the rare quotes Darren Eales, Atlanta United’s President, has given regarding the whole situation has painted a bleak picture of frustration in getting the deal done from all sides involved.
That frustrating transfer process was with a player that wanted to leave, that Newcastle wanted to buy, that Atlanta United wanted to sell, and it was difficult to get a deal done.
Martinez doesn't want to leave and Atlanta doesn’t want to sell him, making the prospect that either side would entertain the idea of entering negotiations with Newcastle United absolutely laughable.
Why Josef Martinez Doesn't Want to Leave Atlanta
After winning the MLS MVP award last season Josef had this to say about Atlanta United.
“I’ve said it before that I am going to be here as long as they want me,” Martinez said. “I am happy here, I feel like I’m at home.”
After signing a 5 year extension with Atlanta United this past January Josef had this to say about Atlanta United.
“I always said this was my home and my family. Now I mean it literally.”
“Surely right now in Venezuela they’re saying negative things about me ... They think I should be playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid. But for me, this is my Barcelona, my Real Madrid. It’s not about me being the star. This team has 11 stars on the field, plus the substitutes, plus everyone who works here for the club. That’s the important thing.”
In that same post contract extension interview Josef addressed the fact that his dominant play in the MLS has attracted the attention of teams around the world. Josef even claimed that he had other offers but Atlanta has something that he’s never experienced before. “Affection can’t be bought,”
So yeah, Josef Martinez loves Atlanta, and Atlanta United. He loves them so much that he even wrote an open letter to the city professing his love in which he says the following.
Because of how talented our team is, and how good they make me look, I get asked all the questions. “What does the record mean? Can this team win it all? What makes the team so strong?”
Usually I can answer them. But the one that sometimes gets me is: “What does Atlanta mean to you?”
A year ago, before our playoff loss in the first round, I maybe didn’t know the answer. But now I do: Atlanta is the supporters, who make the Mercedes-Benz Stadium the best place I’ve ever played soccer. Atlanta is my teammates, the coaching staff, the friends I’ve made on this team.
Atlanta is family.
Atlanta means family.
But Elijah, just because he loves a city and a club doesn’t mean he won’t leave! Yes reader, but I think Josef’s situation is different for two reasons.
The first reason is that Atlanta loves Josef.
Like they love him a lot. If he ran for mayor, despite the fact that he does not speak English very well or know much about American politics, he would probably win.
Josef is going to go down as one of the most beloved Atlanta athletes ever alongside Chipper Jones, Deion Sanders, Dominique Wilkins, Michael Vick and (probably) Ronald Acuna.
Not only has he brought the city tremendous success, but he has done so with a kind of swagger, grit and likability that has caused soccer fans and non soccer fans alike to fall in love with this player. Kids on my cousin’s U-9 soccer team are dying their hair to look like Josef, do all of his signature goal celebrations, and ultimately try to play with the same passion he does all because of their sheer love for Josef
Josef is mobbed in the streets for photographs and autographs, he is the king of all the Atlanta night clubs, and the most common thing fans sports fans in Atlanta can get behind is that Josef Martinez deserves a statue.
Josef has not experienced love like this from a city since leaving his hometown of Valencia, Venezuela. To say he is overjoyed to be loved by a city like Atlanta is an understatement. Josef praises this city as much as he possibly can and there is genuine belief that Josef might never leave this team.
When asked about his future or any sort of transfer rumors Josef always talks about how happy he is to be in Atlanta, and how he does not want it any other way. He literally calls Atlanta his Barcelona or his Real Madrid. The city loves Josef, and Josef loves the city.
The second reason I don’t see Josef leaving anytime soon is simply because he has already had the European experience.
The difference between Josef Martinez, Ezekiel Barco, Miguel Almiron, Pity Martinez and any of the other young Atlanta United stars is that Josef came to Atlanta from Europe.
All of the other guys I named all came to Atlanta in order to get to Europe. This was the case with Miggy, and this is currently the case with the Barco/Pity Martinez duo.
It’s not a secret, this has been the model of success Atlanta United have brought to the MLS, and other clubs are now hopping on this bandwagon.
This isn’t to say Josef would completely rule out a return to European football, but he has less of a reason to chase the dream of playing in the Premier League than Miguel Almiron did.
Josef played for BSC Young Boys and then spent a couple of seasons playing for Torino alongside solid players like Gastón Silva, Matteo Darmian and Bruno Peres. Josef struggled at Torino where he scored only 7 goals in 3 seasons, but this was largely due to the fact he had to play behind Ciro Immobile who literally had the best 3 seasons of his career while Josef was there. Additionally, Josef was asked to play Left Wing, a position he is just not great at. He lacks some of the technical ability needed to become a truly great winger, and struggled playing the position.
Josef had a great life, in his open letter he stated “I learned Italian, scored in the Europa League and stayed in a home at the base of the Alps. I lived.”
Josef was living the dream, playing for a good team in Italy, having the perfect home, living in a gorgeous country. The only issue was on the field he struggled, and off the field he was not embraced by the fanbase. Given how successful the team was he was not hated by the fan base, but more disregarded completely. This led to him hitting the reset button on his career and coming to a place where he is absolutely adored.
See, there is no reason in his eyes why he should leave a city that has been so good to him, a team where he can continue to be incredibly successful, in a league where he can be one of the greatest players to ever play.
And let’s be real, if Josef Martinez were to leave Atlanta United... why the hell would he go to Newcastle and play under Steve Bruce?