Atlanta United's quest to remake a club embattled on hard times took an interesting twist Wednesday with the reported sale of one of its team's stars.
Team President Darren Eales confirmed to 92-9 The Game that they've agreed to a deal in principle to send forward Pity Martinez to Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr. The deal, pending a physical from Martinez, should yield Atlanta United a reported $18 million transfer fee.
The team did not include Martinez in its 23-person roster for Atlanta's Wednesday night match against Inter Miami. Both Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution & Felipe Cardenas of The Athletic have reported that Martinez is en route to Saudi Arabia to finalize the terms of the transfer.
Martinez has had flashes of brilliance flanked by frustration in his season and a half with United, scoring seven goals in 39 MLS appearances. He did much of his work outside of the MLS season, particularly in the US Open Cup, scoring four goals in eight non-league games. Many looked at his inclusion with the team as a like-for-like replacement for Miguel Almiron, but Martinez failed to show the ingenuity of Almiron on set-pieces and plays around the goal.
The impending departure of Martinez opens up a coveted Designated Player spot on Atlanta United's roster to sign before the transfer window ends in October. While they did bring in a new talent in 22-year-old forward Erik Lopez to their second team, many believe the club will look for a more established talent before leaning on the younger Lopez. A new wrinkle in the MLS collective-barganing agreement also has yet to detail how the team could structure a deal with a player of Lopez's experience level.