Juan Manuel Martinez — known affectionately in Argentina as "Burrito" — has been rumored to be on his way to Real Salt Lake by Argentine reporters.
The club declined to comment on the rumor, but at this point in the game, we're going to have some fun with it. The transfer window ends soon, and RSL certainly has to make a move of some sort to be successful.
If you're wondering why he might choose to come to Real Salt Lake, if he has, in fact, done so, we're trying to figure it ourselves.
Martinez's status with Boca Juniors is somewhat up in the air, with some reports indicating that the club terminated his contract, and others giving no indication of the sort. Whatever the case, he's been training with CA Velez while he awaits transfer to his new club.
Martinez has been rumored to be heading to the United States or Europe since a deal two weeks ago to take him to Cruz Azul either fell apart at the last minute, or was never as close as reports from Mexico indicated.
Why would RSL be interested in Martinez, if they are?
Real Salt Lake has been looking to fill a gap in the attack all season, but particularly since the departure of Alvaro Saborio to D.C. United in recent weeks.
Sebastian Jaime has proven capable of plying his trade in the center of the park, with most — if not all — of his goals coming when he started in the middle. While he does a fine job out wide, his impact is significantly lessened there. Whether that's systemic or a coincidence of his play is difficult to say definitively.
Regardless, Martinez has proven a dangerous, exciting player in his career across South America. His last two clubs were the most well-known of his career, playing at Corinthians for a year and Boca Juniors for just over two. While he isn't a deadly goalscorer, his play fills a gaping hole in Real Salt Lake's play. On one side, you have Joao Plata, who is excellent on the left and will hopefully get back to his best soon. But on the other side, there's no natural option — Olmes Garcia is the closest, and he's proven more effective as an impact player than anything.
RSL has no player that fills that right wing attacking gap. Martinez could be the first player signed that's meant for the formation. Sebastian Jaime wasn't signed with the formation in mind; he was signed because he's an excellent striker. If this frees up Jaime to play centrally more regularly, keeping in mind that he played on the right wing largely because he was the best available option there, then it's easy to see why Real Salt Lake would be interested in a player like that.
Regardless, his relationship with Boca Juniors seems to have broken down or ended, which opens him up for a transfer to MLS.
Why would Martinez be interested in RSL, if he is?
During an interview on ESPN 700 last week, Craig Waibel explained perfectly why a player like Martinez could be interested in joining Real Salt Lake. But do keep in mind: He did not say this was about Martinez, and he was speaking in general terms about a player he was or is interested in signing.
There is no question in my conversation that there are multiple opportunities for the player I'm in conversation to go to three, four, five different countries in the world. He's got a family, he's got kids, he's thinking bigger than soccer. He's also thinking coming here proving to himself and the organization that we want him here for five or six years.
This is his number one priority in terms of where he wants to be, and there are a ton of reasons why he'd want to be here personally, and even more reasons why he'd like to come here and perform consistently and extend his stay. This isn't a player that is out of options, this is a player that has many, many options, and quite frankly selected our team.
Now, let me underscore that again: Waibel didn't say he was talking about Martinez. We're not saying he was necessarily talking about Martinez. We're just saying that this is a reason a representative of the club gave as to why a player might choose to come to Real Salt Lake.