NYCFC announced on Monday that they have signed Brazilian defender Thiago Martins to a four-year deal that keeps him at the club through the 2025 MLS season with a player option for the 2026 campaign.
The 26-year-old makes the jump to the United States from Japan, playing for Yokohama F. Marinos of the J1 league — the top flight of the country’s soccer pyramid — from 2020-22.
“I am very excited to be here,” Martins said. “It’s a great pleasure to be part of this big Club. I will do my best to settle in quickly and get to know my new teammates now that I have joined the team in preseason.”
Martins began his professional career with Brazilian club Palmeiras, making 50 appearances from 2013-2016. He was apart of a Palmeiras team that first won promotion to Brazil’s first division in 2013 before winning the top flight’s title in 2016.
He was loaned Yokohama F. Marinos in 2018, quickly becoming a foundation of the squad that won the league title a year later. He made 33 appearances in 2019 while earning a spot on the J1 League’s Team of the Year.
All the while, he honed his game as a defender who can supplement his team’s attack with an aggressive, marauding style of play.
“I am a warrior. I’m going to do my best at all times, in training and in matches,” Martins said. “I’m a fast defender. I am going to do my best, attacking from the back, with my positioning. I will try to understand the way we play and learn English even better, so that everything is easier here.”
It clearly has the makings of a symbiotic relationship in the Bronx.
“Everything conspired perfectly to make this great move to New York, I also watched a lot of matches from last season,” Martins continued. “I saw we are a team that likes to play attractive and attacking football, have many players that are great on the ball, but at the same time work hard and are fighters. It’s no wonder why they were champions, I can tell they have done a lot of work and have an amazing structure here.
“I know I am joining an amazing group of defenders and am looking forward to training and playing with them all.’’