Gonzalo “Pity” Nicolás Martínez announced his move to Atlanta United after River Plate’s Copa Libertadores triumph in December. In an interview with Radio Continental, the 25-year-old midfielder stated that “It was tough for me to decide. But the European teams were not as eager to sign me, to pay the amount of money River wanted, but this club [Atlanta] did, they trusted in me.” The Argentinean’s 15 million release clause was reportedly triggered by Atlanta United, but the transfer has not been officially announced by the club.
Because Pity Martínez’ transfer would place him in a Designated Player slot, and Atlanta already have their maximum amount of DP’s, one would have to leave the club. The current three DP slots are occupied by MLS top-scorer Josef Martínez, 18-year-old Ezequiel Barco, who was bought by Atlanta United from Independiente for upwards of 15 million, and Paraguayan International Miguel Almirón. Almirón is likely to leave the club, with Newcastle United in pole position to capture his signature. However, the Premier League club has not been willing to increase their offer to Atlanta’s demand of almost 38 million. The 24-year-old’s salary has also been an issue in his proposed transfer, with interested clubs not willing to meet his wage demands. With Miguel Almirón’s transfer on hold, Pity Martínez’ transfer will also have to wait, and problems may arise if no club is willing to pay Almíron’s transfer fee by the time the MLS transfer window shuts on May 1.
Background and Playstyle
Pity Martínez first played for Argentinean club Huracán at the youth and senior level and debuted with the first team during the 2011/12 season. He won the Copa Argentina with the club in 2014. Attracting the attention of River Plate, Martínez joined the club and made his debut on February 16, 2015. He would go in to win the Copa Argentina back-to-back in the 2015-16 and 2016-17, as well as clinching the Supercopa Argentina in 2017. Martínez has also won the Copa Libertadores in 2015 and most recently in 2018, scoring the crucial third goal in the second leg against arch-rivals Boca Juniors at the Santiago Bernabéu. In 143 appearances for River Plate, Pity Martínez has scored 22 goals and has 14 assists. On September 8, 2018, he made his debut for Argentina and scored from the penalty spot.
While most of his success has come from the left wing, where he has scored 13 and assisted 9, Pity Martínez is capable of playing on either wing or as an attacking midfielder. The Argentinean’s main strengths are close control, dribbling, and playmaking. Pity loves a back heel pass or nutmeg and oozes confidence across the pitch. The way he moves has been compared to that of Brazilian star Phillipe Coutinho. Interestingly, FC Barcelona was interested in Pity Martínez before the big-money signing of Coutinho from Liverpool. With such a mature and effective play style, there was a good reason for Martínez catching the eye of both the MLS and leagues in Europe.
The Miguel Almirón Replacement?
South American talent is abundant in leagues across the world and known to be full of flair and finesse. However, massive talent and ability are required to break into River Plate’s XI which is a team that is full of raw skill, skill that Martínez clearly possesses. Miguel Almíron was similarly transferred from an Argentinean club, in his case Lanús. Some of Pity Martínez’ play does resemble that of Miguel Almíron, especially his quick feet and attacking prowess. While not as quick as the Paraguayan in the open field, Martínez perhaps possesses closer control of the ball and is less error-prone. His technical ability has been unmatched by most other River Plate midfielders during his time at the club, and while Atlanta fans would be sad to see Miggy Almíron leave the club, the arrival of Martínez would see that his replacement is one of similar talent and ability.
Martínez’ adjustment to the MLS is an interesting topic, as well as his potential assimilation in playstyle with Atlanta teammates. Atlanta center-back Leandro González Pírez stated in a recent interview that “Pity is a great player. He has characteristics that are similar to Miguel Almiron’s characteristics, he wouldn’t have any problem adapting in Atlanta United.” The Argentinean would most likely slot directly into the attacking midfield hole left by Miguel Almíron, and would almost definitely have a nailed place in the starting XI. Martínez’ link-up play with MLS record-breaker Josef Martínez is one that could potentially be as effective as the exciting and deadly Martínez-Almíron connection. A high-performing Martínez-Martínez duo could electrify Atlanta United and set the league ablaze. Pity Martínez’ connection with other attacking Atlanta players, such as Ezequiel Barco, Julian Gressel, and Tito Villalba, is also one that could prove to be an incredible asset to the title-defending Atlanta United side.