Defending MLS Cup winners Atlanta United locked up their star striker Josef Martinez to a five-year contract extension.
With the departure of manager Tata Martino, securing a long-term commitment from reigning MVP Martinez, along with what seems like the unlikely departure of Miguel Almirón, are huge wins for Atlanta.
Martinez has really embraced the MLS and Atlanta, referring to the Five Stripes as his Barcelona or Real Madrid. He’s also spoken glowingly of his “home” in a Players Tribune tribute.
While MLS futures have not been released yet, the retention of Martinez and Almirón will surely make Atlanta among the favorites, along with the New York Red Bulls, DC United, LA Galaxy, and Portland Timbers.
Martinez bluntly and awesomely said of his extension:
“Surely right now in Venezuela, they’re saying negative things about me because they have a mediocre mentality. For them, they think I should be playing in Real Madrid. For me, this is my Barcelona or my Real Madrid. It’s not about me being a star. This team has 11 stars on the field, plus all the substitutes in the team, plus everyone who works here at the club.
I came from a humble neighborhood, so one dollar more or less isn’t going to change who I am … I’m not worried about the money. If I was, I’d go play in China. That’s not why I chose here. It’s because of the affection and the care that everyone has shown me from both the club and the city. That’s what’s important.”
— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) January 16, 2019