Jackson Martinez Isn’t Right For Arsenal
We are barely into June and already I am tired of hearing from all the Portuguese league experts who “regularly watch” Jackson Martinez and proclaim him to be the striker to “propel us to the league title”.
Jackson Martinez, it is claimed, will be the player to make up the difference between us and Chelsea but football isn’t that simple. There is no magic formula where current squad + new player = title. The squad we have could have won the title. We had Theo, Giroud, Özil, Koscielny, Debuchy, Arteta and Wilshere missing for large parts of the season. A few tweaks to the matchday squad in a few games early in the season and we could easily have been champions.
Adding new players is about improving on or reinforcing what you have. You either recruit an understudy or a player who makes the incumbent the understudy. Jackson Martinez is far too expensive to be an understudy and I just don’t see him relegating Giroud to the bench often enough to justify his fee.
Martinez is a fine player and one I have previously said might be able to improve us but I don’t think that any more. I don’t think he is remotely an upgrade on what we have in terms of what he would bring to the team and I have my reservations over his adaptability and price.
The Premier League is a hard league to adapt to, especially for a foreign player educated elsewhere. Players like Alexis and Cazorla make it look easy but they are the exceptions. Generally speaking, players struggle to adapt for the first year or hit the ground running and flatter to deceive – dropping to a steady but ultimately frustrating level that is below the standard they set to start with.
There are, of course, players who buck this trend and go from strength to strength but few of them come to the Premier League scratching close to 30. Joining a new league – especially one that is a physical step up – towards the end of your peak powers has given many players unfair reputations of being a bit “meh”. The same too can work for those who join a new league too early.
Names like Squillaci and Soldado – to name but a few – evoke feelings of mirth in most football fans but it is unfair to go beyond mocking them to labeling them mediocre players – flops maybe, mediocre definitely not.
Soldado was deadly in La Liga but joined a team in huge transition – attempting to revitalise their entire squad with the proceeds of the sale of their star player – and establishing a rhythm was incredible hard for the team which made it harder for Soldado. By the time things had settled down he had gone months without a goal from open play and had a £26m price tag weighing him down. At 27 years old he was expected to rack up goals in a technically inferior league with ease. That was not the case and likely would not have been even if he was going into a settled team.
By the age of 27 most players have played approximately half of their career and if you have spent it in one league the chances of you adapting to a substantially different league is reduced. The pace and physical nature of the game in England and how little time you get on the ball is initially a shock to most imported players. Squillaci couldn’t cope with the pace yet his CV pre-Arsenal was solidly impressive. You’ll have a hard time convincing any Arsenal supporter that Squillaci was a good defender because most of us can only go by what we saw from him when he was here.
Falcao is another great example. He joined the Premier League with a world-class reputation at a similar age to what Jackson is now and he was a humongous flop. Falcao is a far superior player to Jackson Martinez. His goals to game ratio in Argentina, Portugal, Spain and even France was quite impressive but he couldn’t hack it in England.
Martinez didn’t even get a move to Europe until he was almost 26. South and Central America is a hot bed for talent for the Iberian leagues so it speaks volumes that he wasn’t picked up sooner. Also, Spanish teams enjoy raiding Porto so I struggle with how he hasn’t been picked up before now with the record he has.
I’m wary of players like Martinez and Hulk who seem to attract a lot of European attention – according to the papers – but end up staying in, or moving to another, inferior league.
Signing Martinez would be a huge risk. It could pay off big time or it could massively backfire. We might have money to spend now but can we afford to take such a risk? Giroud was a risk also but he was – like Jackson when he joined Porto – almost 26 so just entering his prime and proven in a top European division. Martinez joined Porto from Mexican side Chiapas at the same time Giroud joined Arsenal from Montpellier and his transfer fee – using exchange rates from the day – was around £7m. The fee for Giroud was undisclosed but rumoured to be anything from £9.6m to £12m.
Given their respective situations, work permits, league experience, scoring record, style etc you can say they were pretty even in the financial risks stakes but now Jackson isn’t worth that risk. He is reported to be available for £25m but that’s a lot of money for a guy who is the same age as Giroud, who doesn’t have three seasons in England with an ever improving goal tally (19 goals with 3 months injured this season), and will likely need a few months to adapt.
What if he doesn’t adapt? The earlier we could sell him would be next summer and how much of our £25m investment could we recoup for a player a few months shy of 30 with a dodgy season behind him? Would you pay £25m now for Van Persie? Or £25m for Falcao?
Jackson has an impressive scoring record in Portugal but it’s not quite the 72 in 87 Falcao got or his 70 in 91. Falcao got a move to Spain aged 25 with over 100 goals to his name. That’s worth taking a £25m punt on. If this was 2 years ago I would have probably jumped at the chance to sign Martinez but for me he is too old now.
He certainly has a lot of attributes we are looking for but I don’t think we should be blinkered by his goalscoring record because 1 goal in Portugal does not equal 1 goal in England. The Portuguese league is not at the standard of the Premier League and it would be foolish to assume a player could replicate his form there over here. If we are going purely on goals why don’t we resign Afobe? Or maybe we can ask Middlesbrough how Afonso Alves turned out?
I’d love to point to statistics that show Giroud and Martinez to be largely similar in front of goal but it’s quite hard to do so fairly as most statistic collectors don’t bother with the Portuguese Premier League and it’s just not fair to point to Jackson Martinez’s Champions League goals because Giroud was injured for most of our run. I don’t accept that Martinez is vastly superior to Giroud as some claim. He might be marginally better or he might be Giroud with some pace but ultimately it boils down to the same thing – do you trust someone completely unproven in your division or do you trust someone who has proven themselves reliable if unspectacular? I trust Giroud – with Walcott, Welbeck and Akpom offering something different in competition.
I don’t doubt Martinez will get a move to a decent club this summer but I hope it isn’t Arsenal. He isn’t massively different from what we have and would use up a sizable chunk of our transfer budget. I would much rather we put that money towards a concerted effort to get Reus or strengthen another area of the team with someone like Kondogbia.
Arsenal have plenty of goals in them and Theo Walcott has been showing he can be the forward to get the best out of Özil so I don’t see Jackson Martinez as a priority and certainly not at almost 29 years old.
If we are going to take a risk on someone it should be someone young, completely different to what we have and with resell value if it doesn’t work out – Lacazette.
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