After four years of success and glory, Atlanta United and their star Josef Martinez have agreed to part ways as the Venezuelan striker is set to join Italian side Torino. Atlanta United confirmed the news of Martinez’s departure on Monday, January 18th.
Martinez joined Atlanta United in 2017 and has been a critical figure for the club ever since. In his four years with the club, Martinez has scored an impressive 68 goals in 87 appearances. He also holds the record for the fastest hat trick in the history of Major League Soccer and is the only player in MLS history to win the Golden Boot Award in back-to-back seasons.
Martinez was an integral part of the Atlanta United team that won the 2018 MLS Cup, leading them to back-to-back Eastern Conference Championships in 2018 and 2019. He also set the club record for most goals scored in a single season with 35 goals in the 2018 season.
The move to Torino marks a return to Europe for Martinez, who began his professional career with the Swiss side Young Boys in 2011. The 28-year-old striker is set to join the Serie A side on a four-year contract and will be reunited with his former coach, Walter Mazzarri.
Atlanta United President Darren Eales released a statement about Martinez’s departure: “Josef has been an incredible ambassador for our club since joining us in 2017. His performances, goal-scoring records, and the trophies we won together will always be remembered. We wish him all the best in the next chapter of his career.”
Martinez also released a statement on his Instagram page, thanking Atlanta United for their support and saying he was looking forward to the next challenge in his career.
Although Atlanta United will certainly miss Martinez’s presence on the pitch, the club is reportedly close to signing Paraguayan striker Darwin Quintero as a replacement for the Venezuelan. Atlanta United will also be hoping to succeed in the 2021 season without Martinez, with the club having already made moves to strengthen its squad for the upcoming season.
The departure of Martinez marks the end of an era for Atlanta United and its supporters, but the club is determined to continue building on its success from previous years. With the signing of Quintero and the continued development of their young players, Atlanta United is determined to remain one of the top sides in Major League Soccer.