Three months into the season and it seems at long last Jackson Martinez is rediscovering his goalscoring touch in La Liga.
After a sluggish beginning to his Atletico Madrid tenure, the Colombian forward has struck two goals in his last three games.
The summer saw the shock departure of Mario Mandzukic, with the Croatian sealing a move to Juventus after only one year in Spain. A gaping void was left in the forward position at the club as a result and they were big boots to fill.
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Fernando Torres has on the whole proved a success on his return to the Vicente Calderon, but was not proving the prolific goal-getter the club craved. Simeone needed another striker in the squad to support the Spaniard and ensure the team wasn’t overly reliant on the mercurial Antoine Griezmann.
Martinez proved the man to replace Mandzukic, signing for a fee in the region of €33 million from Portuguese giants FC Porto.
The 2014/15 season had seen Martinez score an incredible 32 goals in only 41 appearances in Portugal. Moreover, his brutish-poacher reputation brought comparisons with ex-Atletico forward Diego Costa.
However, only in the past couple of weeks has the 29-year-old proved his worth at the club. His newly discovered form may help Los Rojiblancos push for the Spanish league title as the El Clasico sides continue to show underlying inconsistency.
Late August saw Martinez bag his first Atletico goal in a superb 3-0 away win at Sevilla, after coming on as a late substitute for Torres and rifling home a long-range, left-footed strike.
Yet it wasn’t until last week’s round of Champions League fixtures that Martinez bagged his second goal in Spain. A huge deflection from a sliding strike proved the stroke of luck Martinez was begging for as he finally found the net again.
Albeit against Kazakhstan-based minnows Astana, the goal proved a relief for Martinez and the catalyst for an explosive return to form.
The nervous, confidence-drained forward was suddenly transformed back into a dangerous striker going into Atleti’s weekend clash with Valencia, against whom he scored again.
Controlling the ball superbly, Martinez finished with unflappable conviction past Domenech Sánchez to open the scoring in a tight 2-1 win. The goal proved confirmation that Martinez was well and truly back.
Now sat in third place, only three points behind Barcelona and Real Madrid, Atletico certainly possess the foundations to launch a title charge. With their big-money forward finally discovering his scoring touch at the club, there is no reason why Simone’s men can’t sit top of the podium come May.
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