By Stephen Gillet
With 10 goals in his first 11 games, Porto's Colombian hitman has become an instant hero at the Estadio do Dragao - following in the sizeable footsteps of his prolific compatriot.
The name Jackson Martinez was one few in Europe had heard of prior to this season, but the striker has smartly remedied this since his move to the Portuguese champions.
With their uncanny knack for unearthing European football's next sensation, Porto dipped into the transfer market this summer to snap up Martinez from Mexican side Jaguares for a fee in the region of €9million.
Dragons' boss Vitor Pereira evidently expected his new signing to make a quick start - selling Brazilian Hulk to Zenit for €39.5m in August to weigh the burden of goals firmly on the Colombian's broad shoulders - but maybe not this quick.
It has only been a 11-game cameo so far in Portugal, but the athletic 26-year-old appears to have it all: strength, aerial ability, pace and - most importantly - a ruthless eye for goal.
Martinez's strikes so far this season have been a veritable smorgasbord of delights: dinked penalties, exuberant backheels, acrobatic bicycle kicks, towering headers and nerveless one-on-ones.
Furthermore, the Colombian's goals suggest he has that rare and ever-so-precious commodity in modern football: unpredictability. Goals come from all angles and in ways that defenders, let alone spectators, least expect them.
Martinez's performances have sent out a clarion call to Europe's big boys. It was reported in the Spanish press at the weekend that Barca's scouts were in attendance at the Dragao last Friday to run the rule over the Colombian during Porto's 5-0 win over Maritimo. They surely would have been impressed with what they saw.
Martinez's stock is clearly on the rise and naturally leads to comparisons with another deadly Colombian: Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao.
Before joining Atletico for €40m in 2011, Falcao scored 41 goals in 51 games for Porto over two seasons. playing in a side that went unbeaten in his final season: winning the Primeira Liga, the Taca de Portugal, the Portuguese Super Cup and the Europa League under Andre Villas-Boas.
|MARTINEZ'S CAREER STATS
|I Medellin (2004-2009)||102||65|
Messi and Ronaldo aside, Falcao is arguably the 'best of the rest' in terms of those currently playing on the world stage: a complete footballer who demands world-class status given his exploits over recent years. Genuinely two-footed, brave, mobile, lethal in the air - Los Rojiblancos star is setting and maintaining standards that few can match.
At first glance, Martinez and Falcao, who at 26 are the same age, have little in common: the former more languid and laid back, the latter more explosive with a few more tricks up his sleeve.
However, there is one glaring similarity: goals and lots of them - both men seemingly born with an ability to keep finding novel and imaginative ways of hitting the back of the net.
Falcao, currently has 34 goals in 42 games at Atletico and has scored goals wherever he has been: 34 goals in 90 appearances for River Plate prior to his bumper haul at Porto.
Similarly, Martinez scored 65 goals in 102 appearances back in Colombia for Independiente Medellin, before bagging a further 36 in 64 starts at Jaguares.
Amazingly, both strikers have 109 competitive goals at club level to their name.
Martinez still has to prove he is capable of delivering on a regular basis in Europe, but those in the know are backing him to maintain his form and emulate Falcao.
As former Colombia coach Leonel Alvarez, when interviewed by O Jogo, succinctly put it: “Jackson and Falcao are two players with completely different assets, but in one aspect they are exactly the same – they both score lots of goals.
“I believe Jackson will score as many goals as Falcao did at Porto. Of course it will depend on the players he has around him, but if he has the same conditions as Falcao, I’m certain he’ll enjoy the same amount of success."
Reaching the levels of Falcao certainly is a tough ask for Martinez, but if the start to his career at Porto is anything to go by then he has every chance of climbing to his countryman's lofty heights.