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Burrito Martinez says he asked out of contract at RSL to be with sick dog

Published January 20, 2017 5:03 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Juan Manuel Martinez's sudden exit from Real Salt Lake certainly was surprising, but the storylines haven't stopped since the dynamic striker returned home to Argentina. No, Martinez still is making news. And the story is getting stranger and stranger.

Reports surfaced out of Argentina on Friday that Martinez, who signed with RSL in the summer of 2015 as a Designated Player, asked to have his contract terminated because one of his dogs has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. "Burrito" Martinez, 31, had eight goals and four assists in 40 appearances with RSL.

But the news that he asked RSL to terminate his deal, which according to the MLS Players Union was north of a $1 million annual salary, due to his dog dealing with cancer has received plenty of attention. Deadspin.com picked up the story, fleshing out the timeline of Martinez asking RSL if he could be released from his contract due to personal issues to now.

In an interview in Argentina, he said the following:

"One of my dogs has cancer and we are doing chemotherapy. They gave him six months to live. So I rescinded my contract [with MLS] and the ball was in my court. Given Vélez's situation and the affection I have for them, because the club isn't capable of paying loans or buying reinforcements due to their economic problems, said 'I'll come, play for six months, I'll leave the dog and after that continue my career, my personal challenges and my fulfill my dreams.'"

That's Vélez Sarsfield, Martinez's former club, the one that he rose to stardom in before eventually signing with Argentina powerhouse Boca Juniors. So the saga continues, and in such odd fashion. Martinez told RSL that a return to Argentina was necessary for his family.

"It's unfortunate, but there's certain things about soccer that you can't control," RSL general manager Craig Waibel told The Tribune on Dec. 7. "He and his wife bought a house, they bought cars, it wasn't like they came here planning not to have it fit like a glove. It just didn't."

When told of the reports that Martinez left RSL due to one of his dogs battling cancer, Waibel said Friday he doesn't react the rumors.

"I had conversations with Juan that preclude anything that was public, that go all the way back into August of last year in terms of where he was, where his wife mentally, where the family was in terms of missing Argentina," Waibel said. "There was a number of conversations that obviously, there's no reason or position to share those publicly. At the end of the year … we met every three weeks from August on; by the end of the year, there was a very clearly understanding that his family wanted to be back in Argentina. It wasn't the easiest thing to accommodate to be honest from my perspective. At the end of it, it made sense."

In September, MLSSoccer.com shadowed Martinez and his family at their home in the Salt Lake valley and discussed at length their love for dogs and adopting dogs.

— Chris Kamrani

Twitter: @chriskamrani






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