Atlanta United are nearing the final stages of an agreement for 2018 MLS Most Valuable Player Joseph Martinez to leave the club and release his contract with Inter Miami.
Atlanta plans to use the offseason buyout to pay part of Martinez’s salary. Multiple sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the deal. An offseason buyout would give the club an opportunity to free up corresponding salary budget space, which would remove Martinez from Atlanta’s roster as a designated player.
Afterwards, Martinez is expected to sign with Miami, receiving the remainder of his salary below the $1,650,250 threshold requiring a designated player (DP) spot. The contract structure is similar to Josie Altidore leaving Toronto FC to join New England last season. Martinez’s base salary last season was $3.75 million, according to the MLS Players Association.
Sources say Martinez is currently meeting with the club in Miami.
Tom Bogart of MLSsoccer.com First reported that the team was discussing a deal for Martinez.
It marks the end of one of the most prolific and memorable player-team partnerships in MLS history. Martinez, 29, quickly became a fan favorite and star when he joined Atlanta for the 2017 expansion season. Martinez was part of a fatal partnership with Miguel Almiron that year he scored 19 goals. He surpassed those numbers in his record-breaking campaign in 2018, scoring 31 goals, earning him MLS MVP and he MLS Cup MVP when Atlanta won the league title. He signed a five-year contract extension after that season.
Martinez was named to the MLS Best 11 in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and remains the club’s top scorer in 2021 and 2022 after returning from an ACL injury that saw him miss all but one game in 2020. maintained. Under his first-year manager Gonzalo Pineda, Martinez scored nine goals with four assists.
He scored 111 goals for Atlanta in all competitions.
Relations between Atlanta and Martinez seemed to sour last season. Martinez was suspended for one week for “behavior detrimental to the team” after colliding with Pineda in the locker room in September. Still, it’s a surprising ending for a player considered a legend at the club.
Now, it seems likely that he will be on par with his rival for the conference.
(Photo: Dale Zanin/USA Today)