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Updated Report: Atlanta United transfer target Hector David Martinez to sign with River Plate

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After Atlanta United’s advances, it appears River Plate will secure the signing of Hector David Martinez on an improved contract.

FBL-SUDAMERICANA-DEFENSA-VASCO Photo by JUAN IGNACIO RONCORONI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Update 2/10: After what seemed like a crucial day of negotiating and decisions made by various parties Tuesday, all signs now point to Hector David Martinez making his preferred move back to his original club, River Plate. German Garcia Grova and Wally Jakovcevic were once again on the coverage this morning.

The new deal Martinez is reportedly signing with River will send him to the Millonarios on loan for one year that includes an option for River to buy out Defensa y Justsicia’s 50% ownership next year. It’s a great deal for River, which acquires the player without having to pay a fee up front and reportedly didn’t need to match the salary Atlanta offered.

For Martinez it’s a good deal too, because he will receive a deserved pay bump while playing at his clear preference of clubs. The draw in coming to Atlanta was for the money. It’s clear from the reporting that Martinez’s heart has been set in Buenos Aires for some time.

And for Atlanta United, it leaves them empty-handed as they pursue one last major signing. The team missed out on reported bids for both Moises Caicedo and Agustin Almendra. While the expected signing of Santiago Sosa helps address the midfield needs, time will tell if there are backup options for an alternative to a central defender like Martinez.

Update 2/9: Folks, we are officially in a transfer saga. A report from Doble Amarilla Tuesday morning stated that Atlanta United transfer target Hector David Martinez is unwilling to go back to River unless they increase his salary, which Atlanta United is prepared to do.

Doble Amarilla has been a relatively reliable source of Atlanta United news, having been one of the first to report that Tata Martino was leaving the club after the 2018 season, and more recently led on reports of Gabriel Heinze coming to the club.

Later, and independent Argentine-based journalist tweeted more details, saying that Atlanta has offered Martinez a salary that would be a 4x increase on his current deal, which River (for the moment) want to keep in place.

Jakovcevic later clarifies that Martinez’s preference — all things being equal — is to play for River Plate instead of moving. But that desire is contingent on at least some sort of pay raise, though it’s uncertain if Martinez would demand River come all the way up to the level Atlanta United is offering.

Seems like it’s still all to play for here, and the ball is in River Plate’s court. We will continue to update as this situation develops.

Update 2/7: Despite Atlanta United agreeing a fee with Defensa y Justicia, it appears that River Plate will beat the Five Stripes to Hector David Martinez’s signature. German García Grova reports that a call from Marcelo Gallardo convinced the young defender to re-join River as the Argentine outfit look set to buy back 50% of his rights.


Atlanta United appears to be going all-in on its rebuilding project this offseason as it looks to rebound from a forgettable 2020 season under new manager Gabriel Heinze. After reports landed in recent days of two incoming young central midfielders — Santiago Sosa and Franco Ibarra — the team now looks to be addressing the back line through Defensa y Justicia central defender Hector David Martinez.

Argentine-based reporter German Garcia Grova has had his finger on the pulse of the Atlanta United news this window, so we can take this report with high levels of confidence.

Martinez would fit immediately in Atlanta’s back line as its best ball-playing center back. The 23-year old rising star has been raising eyebrows since moving to Defensa from River Plate two years ago, where he began earning his first professional minutes and locked down a regular position in Hernan Crespo’s Defensa side.

Realistically, Martinez’s arrival would almost certainly coincide with the departure of fan-favorite Franco Escobar, who’s been increasingly linked with a moved back to his native club Newell’s Old Boys.

Here’s a video breaking down some of his film (in Spanish) to enjoy. I’d also be remiss if I failed to mention that Martinez is a darling of the analytics community.