Jackson Martínez - Player Profile

Atletico’s New Colombian Hitman

Personal information
Full name: Jackson Arley Martínez Valencia
Date of birth: 3 October 1986 
Age: 28
Place of birth:  Quibdo, Colombia
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in) 
Playing position: Striker 

Club information
Current team: Atletico Madrid
Number: 11

Youth career

Independiente Medellin

Senior career

2004 – 2009 Independiente Medellin 143 Appearances, 60 goals
2009 – 2012 Chiapas 69 Appearances, 35 goals 
2012 – 2015 Porto 132 Appearances, 92 goals 
2015 – Atletico Madrid 0 Appearances, 0 goals 

National team

2009 – Colombia 37 Appearances, 10 goals  

After selling Mario Mandzukic to Juventus, Atletico have paid the €35 million release clause to bring 28-year-old Colombian hitman Jackson Martinez to the Spanish capital. Before him, only one player had ever cost Atletico Madrid more, and that guy had come from the same place. In 2011, Radamel Falcao made the journey to the Spanish capital from Porto, where he'd scored an astonishing 72 goals in 87 appearances. In two seasons as a Colchonero, he stormed to 70 in 91. Martinez arrives with a similar record. In 132 appearances for Porto, the 28-year-old raced to 92 goals as he led all scorers in Portugal's top flight for three straight campaigns. 

Fast, Powerful & Lethal. He's the summer headliner. For Diego Simeone, the capture of the striker is a massive coup, allowing the Argentinean to craft an outfit of a similar essence to the one that so famously captured the Primera Division title in 2013-14. That title-winning side, led by Diego Costa, might have been defined by its defensive strength, but it was also forceful and dangerous. Whereas last season Atleti lacked dynamism, the Costa-centric outfit of the year before kept clean sheets while simultaneously handing out thrashings. That's what Martinez's signing means: the capacity to really hurt teams again, not just to blunt them. In style, the club's new striker could be considered a kind of halfway point between Falcao and Costa, his illustrious predecessors. Like the former, he has a predatory instinct in and around the 18-yard box and is able to finish in a flash after subtly ghosting away from a defender. But like the latter, he's also a powerful runner, packing immense athleticism into his 6'1" frame. He might not be quite the finisher Falcao was in his pomp, and he doesn't carry the ball quite like Costa can, but he's a nice combination of the two. His signing also gives Simeone options. Up front, the potential of a partnership with Antoine Griezmann is tantalising, a sort of modern big-man-little-man duo throwing together bundles of pace and scoring prowess. In Simeone's characteristic 4-4-2, such a pairing should be extremely effective. But Martinez will also naturally fit into the middle of a front three and can play the role of a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1.

Naturally, though, Martinez isn't without his flaws. Though a potent goalscorer, he's not one to create for others, and isn't at all the sort of centre-forward who acts as a central fulcrum in the way Karim Benzema does at Real Madrid. Essentially, he's the guy you want finishing the moves rather than building them. Yet, that should suit Atleti just fine. In 2015-16, Los Colchoneros will be driven by more creative talent than they ever have been under Simeone, with the likes of Koke, Saul, Carrasco and Oliver Torres set for prominent roles in midfield. Amid a desire to alter the team's method, Simeone will use that quartet to sharpen Atleti's movement of the ball, quicken up the interchanges. Though he still wants a defensively robust outfit, he wants to oversee a shift in the side's use of possession. Still direct, but dynamic. Essentially, Atleti will use a midfield better able to carve out chances, with Martinez simply tasked with putting them away. He'll hope to do that on 20 or more occasions.

So what does all this mean for Atleti? How far can Martinez take them? Can they win the title? The challenge will be immense, but it is possible. What Atletico Madrid suffered from in 2014-15 was a decline in attack, something that was inevitable after the loss of Costa. With just 67 league goals, Simeone's men were the lowest scorers in Spain's top five, meaning room for error almost didn't exist—concede just once and points were at risk of slipping away. Barcelona and Real Madrid didn't have that problem. 

But Martinez, in conjunction with Griezmann, Vietto, Torres and Co., have the potential to take this side to 80 strikes in the league, possibly more, affording wiggle room to a defence that's been strengthened by the return of Luis. That might translate into 10-12 more points, taking Atleti toward the 90-point mark they reached in 2013-14 and that is needed to challenge Barca and Real. Martinez can make that sort of difference. He is the reason they're in with a chance this season.