Birmingham City are eyeing up a move to sign former Inter Miami striker Josef Martinez, following his recent departure from the MLS club.
This has been first reported by Alan Nixon via his Patreon. However, there could be potential obstacles to a potential deal.
It’s been claimed that Birmingham’s manager Wayne Rooney is a huge fan of the Venezuelan and would see him as a ideal fit in his style of football. Nevertheless, the outcome may hinge on the personal terms that Josef Martinez will be looking for, as the Blues are currently managing their finances (due to FFP) and looking to offload some of their high-earning players, with players like Neil Etheridge, Scott Hogan and Ivan Sunjic being top of high wages at the club.
Martinez, who left Inter Miami on the 25th of October, has garnered attention from various teams, including clubs like Premier League side Luton Town and Brazilian outfit Internacional, with the latter been reported to have talks with the 30 year old.
Josef Martinez has made a name for himself as one of the most prominent players in MLS history. During his time with Atlanta United from 2017 to 2022, he scored 111 goals in all competitions in 158 games. However, his move to Inter Miami in 2023 didn’t yield the impact the club had hoped for, with Martinez only managing to score 12 goals in 40 games in all competitions. Martinez was part of a difficult campaign at the club owned by David Beckham, which left Inter Miami being bottom of the MLS, and the firing of former Manchester Untied defender Phil Neville, who was the head coach of the club until 1st June 2023.
His position at the club was further overshadowed by the arrival of football legend Lionel Messi and the continuous rumours of Inter Miami bringing Messi’s former teammate and close friend, Luis Suarez, to the club. Messi played an big part for the team as his quality pushes the team to win their first ever trophy with the League Cup and being runners up of the U.S Open Cup, which Leo missed due to injury. Despite Josef ended the team’s campaign as the leading top scorer in all competitions, Messi’s presence essentially made him surplus to requirements.
Inter Miami’s efforts to sell him during the summer transfer window failed to materialise, with Luton Town reportingly attempting to secure his services for £10 million. Eventually, the club’s head coach Gerardo Martino confirmed Martinez’s departure from the club after only one season, on the 21st October, officially leaving the team 4 days later.
Reports of Birmingham City’s interest in Josef Martinez surfaced the day after Blues’ 3-1 defeat away at Southampton. However, if he was to join the club before the transfer window opens, he’d be unable to play straight away. According to EFL Regulations, a player can only sign as a free transfer before January 1st if they were already a free agent before the end of the previous transfer window, which was not the case for Martinez, as he was still under contract with Miami at the time. Although signing Martinez wouldn’t fit the policy of signing younger players, he would certainly be a possible solution for the club’s current striker issue and will certainly bring more quality to the team.
Birmingham had actively sought to strengthen their attacking options during the summer transfer window, bringing in Jay Stansfield on loan from Fulham and Tyler Roberts from Leeds. While Stansfield has proven to be a key success (currently the club’s top scorer this season with 4 goals), Roberts has been sidelined due to injury after just one game. The club’s pursuit of other strikers such as Josh Maja, Sory Kaba, and Andi Zeqiri proved unsuccessful, leaving them with a somewhat unsettled situation in the striker role.
Scott Hogan’s poor form and Lukas Jutkiewicz’s incompatibility with Rooney’s desire new system have left Jay Stansfield as the primary striking option. While Junior Dixon is a possible option from the U21 squads, it appears the club may not promote him at this time. With Sam Cosgrove’s departure in the summer and Jay Stansfield’s return to Fulham at the end of his loan spell, coupled with the expiring contracts of Hogan and Jutkiewicz, the club faces a scenario where they may be in a unfortunate position to replace four strikers in the upcoming summer transfer window.
Wayne Rooney, who recently took charge as manager, is keen for the upcoming transfer window to enhance the squad’s quality and acquire players that align with his preferred style of football, with the ideal goal to push within the playoffs/promotion race as a desire target, with the style of football he wanted using the assertive 4-3-3 formation transformed into a 2-3-5 while in possession/attacking.
The beginning of Rooney’s tenure at the club has been challenging, with three defeats in his first three games. His next two fixtures before the international break will see Birmingham City face off against high-flying teams Ipswich Town and Sunderland, providing another difficult task ahead for the under-pressured manager, who’s desperate for a win as soon as possible.