Fredy Montero set to transfer to Portugal club


TUKWILA — The final words are being written in a big chapter of Sounders FC history.

Forward Fredy Montero, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, currently on loan with Colombia’s Millonarios, is set to transfer to Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon, according to a Portuguese media outlet.

The report, which did not include terms of the sale, added that Montero is expected to sign a five-year contract.

Seattle general manager Adrian Hanauer confirmed Thursday that Montero’s transfer is imminent and that the details are being finalized.

“This one is not a rumor,” said Hanauer of the report, “but nothing is done. We’ll obviously announce something if and when it happens.”

It is uncertain what compensation the Sounders would receive in the deal. A portion of Montero’s transfer fee could result in allocation money, which MLS teams can use to spend in excess of the salary cap, though Hanauer said it’s a complicated matter.

“It’s a nuance to the MLS rules that I’m not comfortable with, first, that I have my arms wrapped around and, second, that has ever been explored,” he said.

Montero was an instant star in Seattle when acquired on loan from Colombia’s Deportivo Cali before the Sounders’ inaugural season in 2009. He scored twice in the team’s first game and stayed productive with double-digit goals in each of his four seasons — becoming a designated player with a big raise along the way.

His 47 goals and 34 assists are team records, although he failed to score in 10 playoff games.

Seattle loaned Montero to Millonarios in January, a move the forward wanted for a couple reasons. He was hoping to catch on with the Colombian national team ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil but also wanted to showcase himself in the Copa Libertadores, a tournament for the top club teams in South America, and fulfill a lifelong dream with a transfer to a team in Europe.

Montero’s five league goals this past season for Millonarios might not have suggested a big move was coming, but he had long been on the radar of teams.

“The Portuguese league is a good league in Europe,” Hanauer explained. “Sporting has played Champions League somewhat regularly, lot of visibility in the league, so … certainly he’s not going to, no offense, the Swedish second division.”

Montero would stay with Millonarios for the rest of 2013 if the transfer falls through at the last moment. That isn’t expected, though, and the impending move is “a bit sentimental,” admitted Hanauer.

“I love Fredy as a player and a person, and he’s been a very important part of the history of this club,” said Hanauer, adding this deal is on the periphery of the team’s main goal this season of winning MLS Cup.

“I’m proud that he was a big part of the franchise and that he developed into a really good young man while he was here, because we want to win soccer games, develop soccer players and develop good young men, which, again, is why the door is always open (for Montero to return) — and you never know.”

Notes

— The Sounders waived reserve defender Ashani Fairclough on Thursday, which frees up an international roster slot ahead of the July 9 opening of the summer transfer window.

— Reports out of Honduras say Seattle has offered a three-year contract to midfielder Mario Martinez, whose loan deal ends Sunday. Martinez is expected to train with the Sounders on Friday, despite his uncertain status. Hanauer suggested negotiations to keep the 23-year-old Honduran international could extend beyond Sunday.