Entering the final stretch of the 2018/19 Premier League campaign, Southampton are currently focused on maintaining their position in the top flight of English football. Sitting 16th in the table, two points clear of 18th placed Cardiff City, Southampton are once again fighting for survival. However, while attention must of course be payed to the upcoming matches, the Saints brass have likely already begun to plot a course of action for the upcoming summer.
In an effort to reduce both the payroll as well as the number of first-team players, Southampton are expected to be heavily involved in the summer transfer market. That said, the sale of these players will also be used to generate funds for incoming transfers. Much like the seller’s market, Southampton are also expected to be a heavily involved buyer this summer.
While the Saints currently have many needs across the first team, the forward position may be Southampton’s most dire. With Danny Ings, Shane Long and Michael Obafemi all suffering multiple injuries this season, Southampton’s depth up top has suffered. Adding to this is the fact that Southampton seem likely to sell at least two to three forwards this summer.
However, looking in the most unlikely of places, Southampton may be able to solve both their depth and quality issues. To do so, Southampton must target Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez this summer.
Why Southampton Should Target Josef Martinez
The Biggest Young Star in MLS
Currently playing for Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United, Josef Martinez has quickly established himself as one of the best players in the American top flight. Now in his third season with the club, Martinez has totalled an amazing 59 goals in just 67 matches. On top of that, Martinez also managed to win both the Golden Boot and Most Valuable Player Award last season.
Leading Atlanta to an MLS Cup title as well, Martinez has done everything there is to do in MLS. Rumoured to potentially be heading across the Atlantic this past January, no move would transpire and Martinez remained with Atlanta. In the end, a chance at the CONCACAF Champions League may have kept him in the States. However, with Atlanta’s recent elimination, Martinez may now be free and clear to pursue a move back to Europe.
Sold by Torino to Atlanta back in 2017, Martinez was an average player for the Italian side. Factor in that Martinez was still in his early 20’s during this spell and the Venezuelan actually managed to do quite well in one of Europe’s top leagues. With Martinez just turning 26 this summer, he is just now entering the prime of his career.
A Perfect Fit for Hasenhuttl’s First Team Philosophy
His style of play also fits into manager Ralph Hasenhuttl’s desired system. Possessing both pace and the willingness to run, Martinez would make an excellent second choice striker. The perfect match for the often injured Ings, Martinez would slot his way into the first team lineup without issue.
Another plus factor would be Martinez’ health. Playing regularly for Atlanta, Martinez has made 67 appearances for the Five Stripes over the last two-plus years. Representing an air of consistency, Martinez would serve as a major upgrade in Saints’ frail attacking ranks. With Hasenhuttl also looking to thin the squad this summer, the need for reliability cannot be understated.
Of course, though, the main reason Southampton need to consider Josef Martinez is his goal-scoring touch. Fitting Saints’ style of play, Martinez should be able to replicate his current form. While unlikely to reach the heights he’s achieved in America, Martinez has the look of a player that can do well in the Premier League.
Young, talented, and productive, Josef Martinez is a perfect signing for Southampton. As long as the club continues on its current path and avoids relegation, the Saints will need to find reinforcements this summer. Currently, none fit the bill better than Josef Martinez.