Atlanta United owner responds to Josef Martinez departure

Atlanta United owner Arthur M. Blank has thanked Josef Martinez for his service to the club following his departure to MLS rivals Inter Miami.

The Herons announced the transfer on Wednesday, buying out the remainder of Martinez’s contract with Atlanta using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM).

Despite a souring relationship in the last 18 months, Martinez leaves Atlanta United a legend and arguably the most important player in club history, arriving ahead of their inaugural 2017 campaign and going on to score a club-record 111 goals in 158 games across all competitions.

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The Venezuela international won MLS Cup, US Open Cup, and Campeones Cup titles with Atlanta United, while he won the MLS MVP and Golden Boot awards in 2018. As such, he transcended the sport to become an iconic figure around the city of Atlanta.

It’ll take something special for Atlanta United to replace Martinez and owner Blank has gone on record to show his gratitude for the 29-year-old.

“Since his arrival in 2017, Josef Martinez has poured his heart and soul into Atlanta United. We experienced a lot of firsts together – Atlanta United’s inaugural year, Josef’s first MLS season, a number of record-setting performances and, of course, an MLS championship together,” Blank said in a statement.

“Josef is a one-of-a-kind, iconic athlete, and I’m grateful to him and his family for taking a chance on Atlanta and growing with us. He is one of the most decorated MLS players of all time and has made Atlanta, and the entire league proud, while also representing his beautiful country of Venezuela with pride. I know Josef will continue to shine as he heads to the next step on his professional journey. I’m grateful for the time we’ve had with him, and I know I speak for all the dedicated 17s when I say ‘thank you, Josef.’

“He is a cherished member of our Atlanta United family.”