Frank de Boer has laughed off suggestions that Atlanta United is looking to offload struggling designated player Gonzalo "Pity" Martinez.
The 26-year-old made the jump to MLS in January but has struggled to find his top form with the defending MLS champion.
Martinez was signed from River Plate as a designated player as the club looked to replace outgoing star Miguel Almiron, who moved to Premier League outfit Newcastle, but has managed just two goals and four assists this season.
Reports out of South America on Monday claimed the MLS side is looking to send the struggling star out on loan, but De Boer has laughed off the speculation.
Could be nothing, could be something, but... https://t.co/SHcEu1xJGO— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) July 8, 2019
“It’s ridiculous, you know,” De Boer said in audio provided by the team. "We’re just halfway through the season and he’s new. I always say the first six months is the hardest for everyone who comes to a new culture. He has to adapt.
“We have a lot of confidence in his quality. There is no doubt about it. He knows that he has to do better. He wants to do better. He’s working hard for it. We have a lot of trust in him, so I don’t know where those rumors are coming from. But, it’s not based on anything.”
Despite Martinez having his set of struggles, Atlanta’s title defense is not exactly off the rails.
The club sits third in the MLS Eastern Conference, six points back of the first-place Philadelphia Union with two games in hand.
Star forward Josef Martinez is back in the side after missing out for Copa America duty and made a strong return with two goals in a 3-3 draw with the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
With other stars, like Ezequiel Barco and Tito Villalba having both missed time in recent weeks due to injuries, having the Venezuelan back in the fold should help his Argentine teammate in finding his form.
“He’s a major impact," De Boer said of Josef Martinez. “He keeps everyone on top of their toes. You want that. He wants to give everything, but he wants in return that everybody [else] shows that same spirit and mentality.”