New York City FC Monday announced that the it has acquired defender Thiago Martins as a Designated Player from Yokohama F. Marinos on a contract through the 2025 MLS season with an option for 2026.
The 26-year-old Brazilian defender joined the team in Cancun, Mexico for preseason and is hopeful to be available for its first leg of the Concacaf Champions League, pending receipt of International Transfer Certificate and P-1 visa.
“I am very excited to be here,” Martins said in a statement. “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 pre-season.
“I am a warrior. I’m going to do my best at all times, in training and in matches. 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.”
The 6-foot, 167-lb. Martins was not finished.
“Everything conspired perfectly to make this great move to New York,” he said. “I also watched a lot of matches from last season. 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.
“I would like to thank everyone at Yokohama and particularly the fans for all their support and an amazing experience in Japan both on-and-of the pitch. It is a fantastic club and I was very proud to play for the team. I will follow the games and wish everyone well in the future.”
The Brazilian native began his career at Palmeiras, making 50 appearances from 2013-2016. Martins played a part in helping the team achieve promotion to the first division in 2013 and winning the league in the first division in 2016. He was loaned to Japanese side Yokohama F. Marinos in 2018, a year later. Martins was a defensive cornerstone for the club as it won the 2019 league championship, making 33 appearances while earning a spot on the league’s team of the year.
In 2020, Martin made his transfer permanent to Japan, captaining the team and playing in the AFC Champions League. This past season Martins made 32 appearances, playing 2,880 minutes.
“Thiago is a highly regarded defender who is entering the peak stages of his career,” NYCFC sporting director David Lee said in a statement. “He has all the attributes we look for in a defender and we believe he will suit our style of play well and thrive in MLS. He’s a strong, quick and technically gifted player who is good on the ball, can play out of the back and will allow us to continue to play a high back line. He’s also a fantastic professional who was one of the captains in Yokohama and will be another strong leader for us both on-and-off the pitch.
“We have a very talented group of defensive players and Thiago is a fantastic addition to that group that will allow us to be flexible and play different systems throughout the season.
“I would also like to thank our sister club Yokohama F. Marinos for their cooperation in making this transfer possible. One of the benefits of being part of City Football Group is that we can collaborate and provide a pathway for our players to continue to develop and take the next steps in their careers.”