Atletico Madrid have confirmed the sale of their centre-forward Jackson Martinez to Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou Evergrande.
In a post on the club’s official website on Wednesday, it’s noted that the Colombia international has signed a four-year deal with his new club.
As reported by Ed Aarons of the Guardian, it’s believed Guangzhou have parted with a whopping €42 million (£32 million) to bring the 29-year-old hitman to the club.
Martinez thanked all associated with Atletico for their support in a short statement in the previously linked post:
[I] thank my teammates, the coaching staff and the people working at the club for the trust they had in me and the effort they made so I could come here.
It has been an honour for me to be a part of this club, but I think the time has come to start another stage in my career. We have talked a lot in the last days and we have agreed that this is the best for all of us.
Guangzhou are one of the biggest clubs in China, having won the title for the last five seasons in a row. They have also triumphed in the Asian Champions League in two of the last three campaigns; glory in the competition in 2015 saw the team compete in the recent FIFA Club World Cup, in which they were eliminated by Barcelona.
Martinez only signed for Atletico from Porto last summer, but he has struggled to show his best form in the Spanish capital, scoring just two La Liga goals in 15 appearances. It was a return which didn’t seem befitting of the €35 million (£26.5 million) the capital club spent to land the Colombian, especially when you consider the form he had previously showcased at Porto.
Should Martinez recapture his best form, here is a look at the kind of quality he could bring to the Chinese Super League:
It’s a move which will raise eyebrows for plenty. Of course, Martinez will be handsomely paid for his endeavours at Guangzhou, and with team-mates such as Paulinho and a manager like Luiz Felipe Scolari—not to mention the arrival of former Chelsea man Ramires in the division at Jiangsu Suning—it’s clear the Chinese Super League is rapidly growing in stature.
But it’s not a competition which possesses a high standard throughout, and while the goals will inevitably flow for Martinez, the lack of competitive edge wouldn’t sate ambitions for many of the game’s other top centre-forwards—especially considering that, at 29, the striker should be in the peak years of his career.
Spanish football expert Sergi Dominguez doesn’t feel as though the motivating factors behind this move are the right ones:
Granted, it never looked like it was going to work out for Martinez at Atletico. Manager Diego Simeone demands his players shut down opponents, fall back into a defensive shape and play with an unrelenting energy. For all his qualities—and the forward has many—the ex-Porto man couldn't fulfil these duties.
Even so, there would have been plenty of clubs keen on taking him on in European football’s leagues, and seeing Martinez make the jump to China will be disappointing for many. But for a league that is making major strides, it’s yet another major coup and a sign of its bolstered pulling power.