Jackson Martinez has developed a reputation for himself at a much later age than many do in the modern game.
The 28-year-old centre-forward has surpassed 20 league goals for Porto in three consecutive seasons, but this summer his big move looks to finally be happening after previous links with Chelsea and Manchester United. The Colombian’s transfer this summer looks like one that could rumble on throughout July and August, much like countless transfers of previous summers. Perhaps the most important credentials that Martinez has displayed in his time in Portugal has been his ability to find the net in Europe.
Unfortunately, Martinez continues to be in and out of his national side and on Sunday night we watched an abysmal 65 minutes of Falcao before Jackson could come on. Having followed a similar path from Falcao, he will be dreaming of making the same initial impact upon the biggest leagues in European football by the start of next season.
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One of the big clubs linked with a move for Martinez is Arsenal. An approach from Arsenal is usually a magnificent opportunity for a player to come into a massive league and join a team who will give him game time and quality team-mates, however, this seems to be changing. As the promise of the current squad at the Emirates grows, the pressure on each signing is to be the ‘final piece in the jigsaw’ and this doesn’t create an atmosphere for a smooth transition into English football.
The service from Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez and Ramsey will certainly be of supremely high quality, yet the strength of the current squad does not immediately suggest a lot of minutes with Giroud, Welbeck, Sanchez and Walcott all capable of playing as the front man. Wenger’s tactical fiddling and potential to play 4-4-2 next season would make the pressure greater, whilst the amount of back to goal play required can make being a prolific goal scorer tricky.
Any new central striker added in Arsenal’s current system is likely to highlight just how good a job Olivier Giroud has done in linking up play and contributing goals. Giroud has faced a lot of criticism and the craving from the Arsenal fan base for a big name striker has lasted since the loss of Robin Van Persie, really. All of this accumulates greater pressure for the next forward to be some sort of messiah to propel Arsenal to the title.
Both Atletico Madrid and AC Milan have been strongly linked with the Colombian, with Atletico looking for a replacement to Mario Mandzukic, who has recently joined Juventus. Both these clubs, despite no Champions League for AC Milan, are likely to offer a less pressurised atmosphere to introduce himself to the biggest leagues in European football. While Arsenal are on the rise, AC Milan are looking to find their former glories and Atletico will remain strong with Simeone at the helm.
Fortunately, the decision is solely down to Martinez himself (probably with a lot of assistance from his agent), but Arsenal would be a long way down the pecking order if I were in his shoes. The glamour of Milan or Madrid and the opportunity to be a leading light in rejuvenating AC Milan seems irresistible.
Even a move to Liverpool would be less pressurised, as following in the footsteps of Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini can’t be all that difficult.