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Cristian Martinez transfers permanently to Columbus Crew SC

The young Panamanian winger is now officially a member of the Black & Gold.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Tampa Bay Rowdies at Columbus Crew SC Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC continued building for 2017 with the announcement of the permanent transfer of Cristian Martinez from Chorillo FC.

Martinez had spent 2016 on loan with Crew SC and made appearances with affiliate Pittsburgh Riverhounds in his first season in the United States. The team already exercised his option after the 2016 season and head coach Gregg Berhalter previously voiced his desire to bring Martinez in on a permanent deal.

Martinez joined the Black & Gold in May last year as a signing for the future, but given an wave of injury he made his debut on June 1st as a substitute. He scored a goal in a losing effort to the Philadelphia Union, becoming the youngest goalscorer in Crew SC history.

The winger made another substitute appearance against the Red Bulls on June 25th before going to Pittsburgh on loan for eight games. He then made three more appearances, including two starts following Columbus’ elimination from postseason play.

The signing is a sign that the team is committed to Martinez given Crew SC likely had to pay a fee to sign him permanently and use a precious international roster spot on him. Martinez's salary budget figure will likely raise as a result.

Berhalter has praised the 19 year old’s ability and temperament. "Cristian's fearless" he said. "He has a high ceiling."

Martinez went with the rest of the team to Sao Paulo, Brazil for preseason as he fights for playing time among a thin crop of wingers.

In conjunction with this move, the Black & Gold also announced the addition of 20-year old central midfielder Abuchi Obinwa in a further effort to revamp the midfield for 2017.