After being linked with Newcastle, Born Offside takes a look at the Argentine Player of the Year; Juan Manuel Martinez…

As Newcastle United continue their rebuilding job they have been linked with many forwards across Europe including Mevlut Erding, Kevin Gamiero and Saloman Rondon. But now it appears the Toon have cast their net across South America, and there was no hotter striker than Juan Manuel Martinez last season.

The Velez forward fired his team to the Argentine Primera Division title (Clausura) and  the Argentine Sports Journalists Circle named “the Little Donkey” as the best player of the Argentine league last season.

Small and pacey, Martinez is the same style of player as Lionel Messi although not as good! He plays as a winger or second striker and has an eye for goal. His direct style should suit the Premier League.

Martinez made his debut for Velez aged just 17 and won his first Clausura two years later in 2005. Martinez was loaned out to Argentinos Jrs, Cucuta and Al-Shabab before returning to Velez in 2008.

2010 was Martínez’ best season with Vélez. Up until that season, he had scored just six goals in 91 league games for the club, and had never been a regular starter. However, that season he started all 19 games, scoring 10 goals. He also scored his first career hat-trick for Vélez’ in a 6–0 victory over Colón. 

His final goal of the championship, in the 2–0 away victory over Racing, was defined by various sources as “Maradona styled”. Martínez dribbled with the ball from behind the half-way line, passing 6 rival players in the process, to finally beat the opposing goalkeeper.

International recognition followed his turn in form, he was in the squad consisting of solely Argentine based players, that played two friendlies in November. He made his debut a couple of months later in January and won the penalty that would earn Argentina a draw against Portugal.

If  Newcastle are to sign Martinez they will have to beat Sevilla and Napoli to his signature.