Could Josef Martinez’s goalscoring records result in a return to Europe?

Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez is currently in a rich vein of form that Major League Soccer has never seen before. The lethal Venezuelan is enjoying a run of scoring in 13 consecutive matches, netting 18 goals along the way. The previous record was 12 matches which Martinez achieved last season, sharing the honour with Portland’s Diego Valeri, however he now stands on his own and could even extend his new feat.

Martinez’s goalscoring antics are attracting attention and producing viral content around the world, therefore it wouldn’t surprise me if a return to Europe could occur sooner than we might think…

The 26-year-old began his career with Caracas in his native country before taking a leap and moving to Europe to join Swiss side Young Boys before he had even reached his twenties. He spent a couple of years in Switzerland before moving to Italy to join Torino where he primarily played as a winger and wasn’t generating the level of performances that he is now having found a home and built a new level of confidence in Atlanta.

Atlanta United took a punt on Martinez and made him the spearhead of their side as they went into their expansion season in 2017 and it seems to have been an excellent bit of scouting to unearth him firstly. Followed by a high level of coaching as they transformed him from an underperforming winger into one of the most prolific strikers North America has ever seen. Martinez played a gargantuan role as Atlanta United became MLS Cup winners after just their second season in existence, beating Portland Timbers on home turf with Martinez scoring in the game. He has added further honours to his name since after Atlanta secured both the Campeones Cup and US Open Cup this season.

The first thing you would associate with Atlanta United over the last couple of years is the bromance that was established between both Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron who is now plying his trade with Newcastle United in the Premier League. The two were formidable and unplayable at times, linking up as a classic number 9 and number 10 pairing. Almiron attracted the attention and plaudits and he earned himself a move to the biggest league in the world. Martinez has raised the bar of his performances, even after the Paraguayan’s departure so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him follow Almiron with a return to Europe in the next year or so. Martinez scored 19 goals in his first season, 31 in his second and he has already scored 23 in 2019. There’s no doubting that the Venezuelan would succeed in Europe if he is played in his favourable position, he is one of the best natural finishers I’ve seen and his heading ability for a man who stands at just 5ft 7 tall is jaw-dropping. The argument that MLS talent should be dismissed because of it being a ‘retirement league’ or of it being inferior quality holds no weight anymore – simple as that.

Anyway, before thoughts of a potential move away can even enter Josef Martinez’s head, he has the task of trying to win a second MLS Cup and we are heading towards that time of the year when our attention turns to the post-season. Can Martinez and Atlanta become champions (10/1) for the second time in as many years? I’m not so sure about that. The Eastern Conference had slowly started to build some dominance over the last few seasons but the addition of LAFC has drastically improved the West’s chances and Bob Bradley’s side are the favourites to go the distance in 2019 and rightly so.

Martinez was the top goal scorer in MLS last season having scored a staggering 31 goals in league play. He doesn’t look like repeating that this time around as Carlos Vela can be found at odds as short as

1/14 with 888sport to pick up the honour. The Mexican LAFC forward has been unstoppable in 2019 and leads the charts with just five games left to play.

Josef Martinez has achieved everything he possibly can with Atlanta United domestically, winning trophies and consistently breaking and establishing new records. If the Five Stripes fail to win the big one in 2019 then he may be tempted to seek out a new adventure and Atlanta may be tempted to cash in and grab what would surely be another record transfer fee. Martinez deserves another crack at Europe, and I don’t think Atlanta United would deny him of that.


Competitions