Manuel Veth –
Atlanta United are the Major League Soccer champions. After an impressive 2018 regular season, Atlanta got the job done thanks to Josef Martinez in the playoffs, defeating Portland Timbers 2-0 in the end-of-year showpiece.
It will come as no surprise to regular Major League Soccer (MLS) viewers to hear that Josef Martinez got his name on the scoreboard in that particular clash. The 2018 MLS Most Valuable Player was simply sublime in 2018, and he could dominate the division for many years to come.
At just 25 years old, Martinez is at the peak of his powers. The Venezuela international has enjoyed one of the most consistently prolific campaigns in Major League Soccer history, and he will take some stopping in 2019.
Josef Martinez could he leave Atlanta?
Plenty of punters will fancy Atlanta to repeat after their heroics this campaign, and Martinez’s goalscoring form will be central to their chances. If nothing else, Atlanta will be MLS Cup favourites AND Martinez will be well-fancied to win the Golden Boot award.
You only need to take a quick glance at Martinez’s MLS scoring record to realise just how ridiculous his form has been. In 2017, he notched 19 goals in just 20 outings after joining midway through the campaign.
One year on, Martinez topped the 30-goal mark in 34 games, and his 2018 season will go down as one of the greatest individual efforts from a player. Whether you love Atlanta or not, you simply cannot ignore Martinez’s contribution to their success.
In fact, his efforts on the other side of the Atlantic haven’t gone unnoticed in Europe. A number of top Spanish clubs have been linked with a move for the Venezuelan during the offseason; we could see Martinez move to La Liga in the January transfer window.
Martinez is crucial for Atlanta
Sevilla, now 1/4 in the latest La Liga betting odds for a top-four finish, are one of the teams most closely linked with a potential bid for Martinez. It would be fantastic to see the Venezuelan make a return to European football.
He notched seven goals in 58 appearances for Torino, and critics will say that Martinez has found his level in Major League Soccer. Making an impact in MLS is nothing compared to performing well in Serie A.
In Italy, you are going up against some of the best defenders on the planet – the likes of Juventus, Napoli and Roma would dominate over in the United States. Spain is a different challenge altogether though, and Martinez ticks all the right boxes to shine in La Liga.
Josef Martinez was the best player in Major League Soccer last season– and it wasn’t even close. The Venezuela star is full of confidence right now, and a switch to one of Europe’s top leagues could be on the cards.
Atlanta United will be hoping that their main man opts to stay in the United States for another year or two, but Martinez will be eyeing up a potential move to Spain. After all, the money and prestige of playing for a La Liga giant must be very tempting indeed.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.