International

Martinez in 'excellent shape'

2015-08-17 15:16
Jackson Martinez (File)

Madrid - Atletico Madrid's new striker Jackson Martinez believes he is in "excellent shape" to pick up where he left off with former club Porto, starting with Saturday's opening La Liga game at home to promoted Las Palmas.

Colombia international Martinez, top scorer in Portugal's top flight in each of his three seasons with Porto, has already opened his Atletico account, scoring a fine header in Saturday's 3-0 friendly win over Real Betis.

Atletico paid $39 million to buy the 28-year-old as a replacement for Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic, who has joined Juventus, and he will compete for a place up front with Fernando Torres, Antoine Griezmann, Luciano Vietto and Angel Correa.

"I am in excellent shape to begin this new stage in my career and La Liga," Martinez said in an interview with Spanish sports daily As published on Monday.

"There is a healthy competition between the team mates and in the end it will be the coach who decides who plays," he added.

Atletico manager Diego Simeone is again rebuilding the team following the exit of Mandzukic and playmaker Arda Turan to Barcelona as the 2013-14 La Liga champions seek to challenge heavyweights Real Madrid and Barcelona for the title.

Atletico also qualified for the Champions League, the competition in which they reached the final in 2013-14, losing to Real after extra time.

Real also knocked them out last term, edging a tight quarter-final tie 1-0 on aggregate.

Martinez said Atletico were expecting great things from their 20-year-old midfielder Oliver Torres, who was on loan at Porto last season.

A gifted ball player with a keen eye for the killer pass, Torres could be the ideal replacement for Arda in the creative midfield role.

"Oliver is an excellent player," Martinez told As. "He really has matured a great deal and going to Porto helped him a lot in terms of his development as a player."

After hosting Las Palmas, Atletico will face a stiff test of their title credentials with a trip to play Europa League champions Sevilla on August 30.

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