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Martínez is a club legend for Atlanta United, but after relationships fractured, the club decided it was best to move on. Martínez had a no-trade clause and a big contract, giving him a significant level of control as to his next club. Atlanta also wanted to make sure the exit was as smooth as it could be for their all-time leading scorer and someone who helped deliver MLS Cup, US Open Cup and Campeones Cup titles.
Miami didn’t have a DP spot they could use on the deal. Atlanta acquiesced to using their sole offseason contract buyout on Martínez, freeing Miami to fit the deal under the cap.
“We were able to work together to find a solution to make it work for everyone,” Henderson said. “He was able to leave their club in the right way and we were able to make things work in our budget.”
The 29-year-old forward delivered one of MLS’s greatest-ever individual seasons in 2018, part of a pyrotechnic three-year stretch from 2017-19 in which Martínez had 77 goals and 11 assists in 83 appearances (7,007 minutes, meaning a goal contribution every 79.6 minutes). He tore his ACL on opening day in 2020, though, and hasn’t quite looked the same.
Martínez is still scoring goals anyway (21g/5a in 3,097 minutes), but doesn’t physically seem to have the same explosiveness as he once did, after he underwent numerous surgeries on that knee.
“We have to build him up in the right way,” Henderson said. “Our performance director has an individual plan for him, just like everybody else… If we can manage it right, build him up in the right way, we hope he’ll be able to play major minutes for us.”
Martínez will be a key piece to a new-look attack.
Miami made the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs last season thanks in large part to a resurgence from forward Gonzalo Higuaín and a midseason boost from former MLS MVP Alejandro Pozuelo. Higuain has since retired and Pozuelo is still a free agent. Martínez is a known commodity in MLS and he won’t be the only familiar face.