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Is Josef Martinez Living Up to His $4 Million Contract With Inter Miami CF?

By Mike Rodriguez

Josef Martinez joined Inter Miami CF back in January 2023 after an emotional breakup with Atlanta United FC. He still had one year left on his contract worth $4 million which caused Atlanta to exercise its offseason buyout. Inter Miami retained a portion of the guaranteed contract.

The entire MLS fan base, specifically Atlantans, is well aware of and will forever appreciate the unforgettable magical moments that Josef displayed during his time with Atlanta United FC. He will go down in MLS history as one of the greatest strikers to play in the league.

Josef Martinez’s List of Records

During Josef’s time at Atlanta United FC, he broke many records that he still holds. In particular, during his first three seasons (2017-2019) with Atlanta, he set the league on fire.

Here are just a few from a long list of records that Josef holds.

100 MLS Goals Club

On the 6th of May, 2023 as an Inter Miami player he faced his former club, Atlanta United FC, for the first time since his departure. Not only did a secure a brace during the game but also broke a milestone record.

With his second goal of the game, he was able to become the fastest player in MLS history to reach 100 MLS goals. He accomplished this feat in only 142 games.

2018 MVP Season

The year 2018 was one for the history books. Josef Martinez was unstoppable. He secured a total of 31 goals during the season and helped his team win the MLS Cup. As if winning the MLS Cup wasn’t enough, Josef individually won not one, not two, but three MVP awards during that memorable year. And if all that wasn’t enough, Josef also one the 2018 MLS Golden Boot Award. Here are Josef’s 2018 awards:

  • MLS Landon Donovan MVP Award
  • MLS All-Star MVP Award
  • MLS Cup MVP Award
  • Golden Boot Award (31 goals)

He is the first and only player to ever win all three MVP awards in one season.

The Hat Trick Master

In just two seasons, from 2017-2018, Josef Martinez was able to secure a total of 6 hat tricks. He currently holds the record for most hat tricks in MLS history.

Josef Martinez’s Season-Ending Injury

We are all aware of that dreadful day when Josef Martinez fell to the floor while holding his knee in the 66th minute of their 2020 season-opener game against Nashville SC. He entered that season as one of the best players, if not the best, in the MLS. We later found out that Josef tore his ACL and it forced him to miss the rest of that season.

Once Josef recovered from his injury, it was very clear to see that he had lost his dominance and was not the same player. During his 2021 and 2022 seasons, he was able to score a total of 21 goals. When you compare that number to the 58 goals that he was able to secure during his 2018 and 2019 seasons, it was obvious that Josef’s goal-scoring abilities had diminished.

Was Adding Josef a Wise Decision by Inter Miami?

The addition of Josef Martinez to the Inter Miami CF roster demonstrated the desire by the front office to acquire his talents despite his struggles after the ACL injury. It would not take much to imagine that Inter Miami considered the acquisition a great opportunity with little risk.

Martinez’s contract was mostly paid by Atlanta United’s offseason buyout and there was only 1 year left. Essentially, it would give Josef Martinez one year to prove whether or not it was worth retaining his services at the end of the season.

However, Inter Miami did have clear expectations after adding Josef to the club. Chief Soccer Officer and Sporting Director Chris Henderson had this to say once the acquisition was made official.

Josef is a champion and adding him to our group is exciting for us as we head into the 2023 season. He’s been one of the best players in the league since he first arrived and we believe he’ll make a difference here at Inter Miami.”

We’re adding a proven goalscorer with a track record of success in MLS. We’re thrilled to have a player like Josef in our attack.”

With all of this in mind, I would have to say that Inter Miami’s decision to add a proven leader and goal scorer to the club was a fantastic choice. You’re adding a former MVP and Champion for a discounted price and only for one year.

This flexibility would give Inter Miami the option to part ways with Josef at the end of the season if for whatever reason he didn’t perform to the expected standards.

Josef Martinez striking ball for Inter Miami
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Josef’s Stats With Inter Miami CF Regular Season Games

At the time of this writing, Inter Miami CF finds itself flying high as the 2023 Leagues Cup Champions and with a totally different roster than the beginning of the season. The addition of Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba has completely transformed this team. They have single-handedly taken this team from zero to hero.

However, Inter Miami currently sits at the very bottom of the MLS table. Out of 22 games they have a record of only 5 wins, 3 draws, and a whopping 14 losses. Josef played in 20 of those games and was in the starting lineup 15 times.

He has played a total of 1,345 minutes.

Goals

Josef has only scored 6 goals thus far during the regular season. However, 2 of those goals were obtained via penalty kicks. The other 4 were scored from within the box and all with his right foot.

He has taken a total of 29 shots, 17 of them being on target. Josef has a conversion rate of 20%

Assists

Josef has only been able to obtain 1 assist.

Passing

Josef has made a total of 289 passes with a passing accuracy of 85%.

Defense

Josef has made 8 clearances, 1 block, and 1 interception. He has a tackle success rate of 60%.

Stats Don’t Lie

When one focuses on Josef’s stats so far, it’s clear to see that he has underdelivered on the expectations that were set on him by the club and its fans.

Add the fact that Miami is sitting in last place with only 5 wins and 3 draws and it makes matters look worse. The club was hoping that Josef could infuse the team with a championship-winning culture and actually be competitive in the league.

However, it does not mean that he has not been giving it his all. The training staff along with his teammates speak very highly of his work ethic and professionalism.

The fact is that Josef suffered a very serious injury that has prevented him from returning to his top form. It seems like he is really trying to give his all during matches but his body is just not delivering.

Should Leonardo Campana Start Over Josef Martinez?

Many Inter Miami fans are torn with this question. So to answer it one must focus on one of the key evaluating principles. Stats!

To begin, Leonardo Campana, who is only 23 years old, is 6’2 and 174 lbs. He is a tall and physical forward who uses his physical attributes when operating in the last third of the field.

He is fast, explosive, and always pressing the defense.

During the regular season, he has played 16 regular season games and made the starting lineup in 10 of those games. So far, he has played a total of 1,005 minutes.

Goals

Campana has only been able to score 4 goals thus far during the regular season. However, he has played 304 fewer minutes than Josef and has played in 4 fewer games. Also, none of his goals came via penalty kicks.

1 of his goals came from his left foot and 1 goal was from his right foot. The other 2 were headers. Additionally, 3 of his goals were from within the box and 1 was from outside the box.

It seems like he has the ability to be more diversified with his goal-scoring abilities especially when it comes to headers.

He has taken 24 shots, 13 of them being on target for a conversion rate of 16%.

Assists

Campana has been able to obtain 2 assists.

Passing

Campana has made 246 passes with a passing success rate of 75%.

Defense

Leonardo Campana has registered 9 clearances, 2 blocks, and 3 interceptions. He has an 80% tackling success rate.

Bottom Line

Based on all the factors and aforementioned stats thus far during the 2023 regular season, I do believe that Leonardo Campana should be in the starting lineup over Josef Martinez.

Even more so now that Inter Miami CF has added Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba who average an age of 35 between the three.

Incorporating the youth and explosiveness of Leonardo Campana will help Messi’s longevity and overall health. Because of the fact that Josef had his injury and is 30 years old, he is unable to press the defense like he used to.

This would force Messi to use unnecessary energy while on defense trying to press and recover the ball. We all know that Messi, during games, needs to conserve his energy and walk all over the pitch until the right opportunity presents itself where he can explode and deliver magic.

Campana’s ability to press the defense, run faster and for longer than Josef, and his physicality is one of the main reasons why Inter Miami should incorporate his services into the starting lineup.

His stats are not great but when you consider that he has played for less time than Josef and has more or less the same stats, it confirms that there shouldn’t be such a great drop-off in production.

If anything, you would probably get more production. Campana adds an element to Inter Miami’s offense and defense that Josef is unable to deliver. Physicality, command, and stature inside the box.

Campana is always a threat to head the ball for Miami while on offense. And on defense, he is able to move bodies around and make excellent clearances.

Final Thoughts

Inter Miami CF made a great decision to add a proven leader and champion to their club at the beginning of the 2023 season. He is a player that will go down in the history books and most definitely in the US National Soccer Hall of Fame.

However, his 2020 ACL injury has prevented him from returning to proper form, and the Josef Martinez that we would all admire; unless he was playing against your club. Inter Miami has given him enough time and playing minutes to prove whether or not he should be in the starting lineup.

Now that Miami has infused the big three in Messi, Alba, and Busquets, I believe that Josef would make more of an impact as a substitute player. Adding him in the 60th or 70th minute of a game will allow him to challenge already-tired defensive players while having fresh legs.

After all, if Campana has been physically pushing and challenging defenders for 60 to 70 minutes, you know they are going to be tired.

Finally, Josef’s performance could lead to the conclusion that he has not lived up to his $4 Million contract. However, I do believe that Inter Miami has a great player who can still deliver slivers of magical moments, but they have to place him in the right conditions so that he can have good opportunities to deliver.

What are your thoughts? Let us know by dropping a comment below.

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