Sources say Joseph Martinez will not return to Atlanta United next season the athlete. During a face-to-face meeting with Atlanta coach Carlos Bocanegra on October 20, Martinez was told he would not be part of the club’s future.
Multiple sources, who have been granted anonymity in order to maintain working relations with Atlanta United, said the club is actively seeking No. 9. Atalanta are expected to sign a striker using the player’s slot, but they must first find a contractual solution for Martinez.
Venezuela’s DP World has a guaranteed contract with Atlanta until 2023. According to sources, the contract includes a no-trade clause, which means Martinez will have to agree to a deal to end his time with Atlanta United before the contract can be concluded.
When reached for comment, Atlanta United declined to comment through a spokesperson.
The possible next step is for the club and Martinez’s camp to negotiate the final year of the player’s contract. In this case, the acquisition of the contract is a possible solution. Due to a no-trade clause – potentially defined as a no-reset clause within the MLS – Martínez will become a free agent if the takeover is agreed and he skips the typical waiver claims of players purchased from contracts. Martinez will then be able to sign for the team of his choice in MLS.
According to MLS roster rules, Atlanta United’s purchase of Martinez would open up budget space for a new signing. Teams are allowed to take possession once off-season each year. Then the acquisition is considered at the expense of the club. Atlanta will pay Martinez based on the terms of the acquisition, but Martinez will remain technically under contract with MLS.
Martinez, 29, became an instant star in Major League Soccer after being acquired by Atlanta United in 2017 on loan from Serie A club Torino. He was signed to a permanent DP deal after just three games during the club’s inaugural season, then drafted a five-year extension in January 2019 after a record-breaking campaign in 2018.
That season, Atlanta United won the MLS Cup and Martinez became the first player in league history to win three Player of the Year awards in a single season. He was an All-Star, regular season star player of the MLS Cup and cemented his place as one of the all-time best strikers in MLS.
Martinez was NBA Player of the Year in 2017, 2018, and 2019, was Atlanta United’s top scorer over the past two seasons despite playing a backup role under Gonzalo Pineda in 2022. He finished with 111 goals with Atlanta United in all competitions and reached the century mark in goals faster than any other player in MLS history.
His last goal for the club on October 1 against New England was voted the best goal of the 2022 season. That is the kind of production and impact that Bocanegra and Atlanta United will now try to replace.
Without a doubt, Martinez, his goals and his character were essential to Atlanta United’s brilliant start in Major League Soccer. A knee injury in 2020 changed his career path and coincided with the club’s decline on the pitch. Martinez and Atlanta United will now go their separate ways and start again in 2023.
(Ira L. Black Corbis/Getty Images)