When Jackson Martinez signed for Atletico Madrid last summer, there was no doubting that he had the potential to join the long list of illustrious strikers to play for the club in recent years. The last forward to sign for Los Rojiblancos from Porto was Radamel Falcao, a player who went on to score 70 goals in all competitions across two seasons, in what turned out to be the best goalscoring form of his career to date. After leaving Atleti, Falcao suffered somewhat of a decline, but unfortunately for Jackson, that happened when he signed for Diego Simeone’s outfit – he scored just three goals in his 22 appearances, and news broke on Tuesday that he had been sold to Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande.
The winners of the deal are certainly Atleti, if the figures are to be believed, who brought the Colombian for a reported €35m and sold him on for €42m. That’s a €7m profit on a player who clearly did not fit in at the club and who, at 29-years-old, has some of his best years behind him in the game. The architect of the deal is none other than super-agent Jorge Mendes, Jackson’s representative, who has capitalised on the growing wealth in the Chinese game throughout the January transfer window to find transfers to the Chinese Super League for Ramires, Gervinho and Jackson’s compatriot Fredy Guarin.
The No 9, who will play under World Cup-winning Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari in China, left a farewell message on his now-former club’s official website.
“[I want to] thank my teammates, the coaching staff and the people who work at the club who had confidence in me and made the effort to bring me here,” he began. “It was an honour for me to be part of this club but I think it’s time to start another stage in my career. We’ve talked a lot in the last few days and we agree it is best for everyone.”
Going back to the start of this campaign, Martinez netted his first Atleti goal in the emphatic 0-3 victory at Sevilla in the second game of the season, coming off the bench to score an excellent long-range effort. It was some way to open his account for the club and the hope was that he would start scoring on a regular basis as he had done in Portugal, but it was known and acknowledged that he needed time to adapt to an extremely rigorous system.
There was a nine-game goal drought after that, which begann August 30, until Martinez scored his second for Los Colchoneros in the Champions League against Astana on October 21. He then made it two goals in two games when he netted in the home win over Valencia, and finally, after a bedding-in period, it looked as though the 29-year-old’s time had come, despite performances which failed to convince to a certain extent in terms of his contribution to the game as a whole.
While on international duty with Colombia, Martinez suffered an ankle injury which ruled him out for over a month, and it’is safe to say that this was not the most convenient thing to occur in order for his club form to hit the ground running. He had featured in all 11 of Atleti’s games preceding his injury, whether that be as a starter or coming off the bench, so Simeone did persevere with him. Cholo wanted him to be a success.
After a period of convalescence, the man from Quibdo failed to score again for Los Rojiblancos. A point to consider is that all of the successful strikers at Atleti, the likes of Fernando Torres, Diego Costa, the aforementioned Falcao, Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan and their man of the moment Antoine Griezmann differ greatly in their style of play to the Colombian. Martinez is not a man renowned for running the channels and working hard for the sake of the team. He is known for his aerial duels and little lay-offs, things which don’t exactly fit the bill for a Simeone striker.
The fact that Simeone signed him anyway, in spite of this, shows just how highly he rates him and how willing he was to at least try to fit him into his team because the effects could have been devastating.
He isn’t the only only forward to have struggled to score many goals for Atleti this season as Luciano Vietto has three and Fernando Torres just the two. The difference, however, is that Vietto is still young at 22-years-old, and it looks as though Torres will leave the his boyhood club once his loan spell comes to an end at the end of the campaign.
For a man who has been linked with almost all of Europe’s top clubs at one point or another throughout his career and, who on his day, is one of the best forwards in the world, it’s a real shame that his move to Atleti didn’t work out. The move to China will hopefully give Martinez the confidence he needs to return to the player he was, as well as obviously earning him a whole lot of money, paving the way for another chance in Europe. This should not be the end for the Colombian, who will be looking to prove all of the doubters wrong if he does return in the future.