Atlanta United and Josef Martinez are on the verge of agreeing to a new contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.
The team declined to comment on Tuesday.
Martinez had three years remaining on the contract he signed after he was acquired from Torino in Italy in 2017, team president Darren Eales said in December. Martinez had a guaranteed compensation of $1.4 million last season, according to the MLS Players Association.
However, the striker set a league record for goals during the regular season (31) and an entire season (35) in helping Atlanta United win the MLS Cup last season.
Because of the goals, the Venezuelan became the first player in league history to be named the MVP of the All-Star Game, the league and the MLS Cup in the same season.
Martinez is one of the most prolific strikers in league history with 50 goals in 54 appearances in the regular season. He also leads the league in career hat tricks (6). However, his salary lags far behind the league’s highest-paid players: Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco ($7.1 million) and Michael Bradley ($6.5 million).
Zlatan Ibrahimovic reportedly agreed to a contract with the L.A. Galaxy during the offseason that will pay him at least $7 million per season.
For all the money Atlanta United has reportedly paid in transfer fees, it has been fiscally responsible with player salaries. Its payroll in 2018 was just ninth-highest among the league’s 23 teams.
Though the subject of transfer rumors for more than a year, Martinez has consistently said how much he enjoys living in Atlanta and playing for Atlanta United and that he would only want to leave when the club no longer needed him.
Martinez is one of at least two Atlanta United players who are thought to be negotiating for a new contract. The other is midfielder Julian Gressel, who has nine goals and 23 assists the past two seasons.
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