It’s obvious. Liverpool have a massive goal-scoring problem. It’s a problem so big and rancid I can smell it from here in Los Angeles. But from my vantage point, nestled in between 4am Premier League kickoffs and 2pm Mexican Primera division matches, I can tell you, help could be on its way from South of the Border.
For down there in Mexico plays the Jackson Martinez, the 25-year-old Colombian striker who plies his trade for Jaguares de Chiapas (that’s the Jaguars, for the laymen). With rumors of a £6 million summer move to Liverpool (or Porto) aplenty, he’s been creating a lot of buzz of late. But in Mexico and Colombia, he’s been the buzz for a while.
Martinez is a late bloomer of sorts, having crashed onto the scene three years ago with his hometown club, Independiente Medellin. In 2009, he broke the club’s single season scoring record with 18 goals. That same year, he led Medellin to their 5th league title. By the time he left for Jaguares in 2010, he’d bagged 65 goals in 84 league appearances, leaving him 6th on the clubs top scorers list. Martinez carried that form to Mexico, where he’s scored 30 goals in his 57 league appearances. They’re impressive numbers, regardless of competition.
But let’s be honest, how Martinez fared statistically in Colombia and Mexico has little to do with how he’ll perform in England. Physically, the 6ft Martinez is a fit and sturdy striker with natural nose for the net, as you’ll notice in the video below. The BBC’s Tom Vickery sums up Martinez as “an out-and-out goalscorer, a front-to-goal centre-forward who can finish off both feet, and with excellent spring that makes him a threat in the air.”
Some have questioned how moving to Europe would affect Martinez’s confidence, which is so pivotal to his game. Others say he has a heavy first touch. But his combination of speed, strength, and a bit of that mandatory South American flair eclipses that. Factor in his ruthless finishing ability and you’re reminded of a Demba Ba or Papiss Demba Cisse- and that’s a tough similarity to ignore.
Perhaps the Newcastle strikers are the fashionable comparisons in the transfer market right now, but finishing is what Kenny Dalglish and his woodwork warriors desperately need. For £4-6 million, quite honestly, Martinez is worth the gamble. And I say that for more reasons than just finding a bargain fix for Liverpool’s expensive attacking impotence.
Imagine the scene. Liverpool are struggling with Reading at Anfield. Off trots a frustrated and scary Andy Carroll. On comes, Jackson Martinez for his debut.
It’s 1-1, 84th minute. The Reds have already hit the bar three times. Lucas Leiva (oh my) wins the ball in midfield, passes to a half-broken Steven Gerrard, who swings it wide to Stewart “I was born to play Championship level sides” Downing.
Meanwhile, Suarez and Martinez are making zesty runs off one another. Stu zips a cross to the far post and OH! There’s Martinez, hungry and unmarked! He finishes brilliantly with his left foot and reels off to the corner flag to do his trademark somersault-to-kneeling celebration. The first teammate to drape themselves over his back is none other than, Luis Suarez and his unmistakable overbite.
Now THERE’s a picture. One that would speak a thousand words, and hopefully forever mute the one Suarez unfortunately uttered this season. It’d be the dirt with which Liverpool could bury a yucky image problem.
But more importantly, Jackson Martinez could help Liverpool unearth its scoring prowess of yesteryear. Or he could flop. But for the pesos they’d pay for him, por que no?