Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo said forward Jackson Martinez, who has joined Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande, was not at the required level for Atletico and that a move was in everyone’s best interests.
The Colombia international, 29, joined the Chinese club on Wednesday for €42 million, signing a four-year contract after spending just six months in Spain following a move from Porto last summer.
“Guangzhou is a great club, the change will be good for him and it will be phenomenal for the club. They will be in the running for the Chinese league title. Here, the truth is that poor Jackson was not at the level of these circumstances,” Cerezo said on Cadena SER’s El Larguero show.
Cerezo conceded that the Colombian striker “struggled to adapt” at the club.
“He is a good player but here he didn’t have good luck and without a doubt, the best option for everyone, for both the buyer and the seller, was for him to leave and that is the option we exercised,” the 67-year-old said.
Cerezo also said that if the Chinese side paid €42m for Martinez “it was because he was worth it” and added that he had “great appeal in the transfer market” thus making it hard to turn down an offer on a player who is 29-years-old.
Atletico paid €35m six months ago to sign Martinez from Porto, but he struggled in La Liga, scoring just twice in 15 appearances.
“The careers of football players are not very long, they are years that can be very decisive and maybe he thought that this was the right moment to put a good end to his career,” Cerezo said. “No one can take away the great value he has. Even though he played little for us, he is a player highly regarded and no one can argue that he isn’t.”
Regarding future transfers, Cerezo said he not spoken to Chelsea about bringing Diego Costa back to the club.
“I speak regularly with Diego Costa but I haven’t discussed whether he would come here because he has a rather long contract [with Chelsea],” Cerezo said.
“Players will always say – as a way of being kind – that they want to come, but we have not discussed anything with Chelsea. He is under contract and in addition, right now, he is scoring goals for the club.”
Cerezo however, didn’t rule out a move in the future, saying that in the summer “we will see what happens.”
He added that the club’s “technical secretary has been working 24 hours a day” at potential targets now that the club has seen its FIFA transfer ban lifted temporarily.
“We must be prepared because two windows without being able to sign players is a long time for a club such as ours and we want to be on top, to win and to be in Europe,” Cerezo said.