Is Sounders FC about to address its need at forward?
It appears so, as a team official has traveled to Valencia, Spain, to try to secure the transfer of Levante UD forward Obafemi Martins to Seattle.
The news was first reported Monday afternoon by Sports Illustrated and confirmed shortly thereafter by The Seattle Times through a team source. The Washington Post revealed last week that the Sounders had interest in Martins, a 28-year-old Nigerian international.
Martins would be a designated player for Seattle, meaning that one of the team’s current DPs — midfielders Mauro Rosales, Shalrie Joseph or Christian Tiffert — would first have to be removed from the active roster. There have been multiple indications recently that Tiffert’s contract will be bought out, which would open a spot for Martins.
The MLS deadline for a buyout is Saturday, in conjunction with opening day, but the Sounders could sign Martins all the way through mid-April in this transfer window.
If a deal isn’t done by then, Martins wouldn’t be able to join until the summer. A transfer fee for the veteran of clubs like Inter Milan (Italy), Newcastle (England) and Wolfsburg (Germany) could be close to $4 million, according to FutbolMLS.net.
Martins has seven goals in 20 La Liga games this season and nine goals in 25 games in all competitions. He led Levante to the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 with two goals in a 4-0 series win against Greece’s Olympiacos.
Levante’s next round in the Europa League is against Russia’s Rubin Kazan on March 7 and 14, which could possibly affect Martins’ arrival date.
Forward has been a pressing need for the Sounders since the team loaned Fredy Montero, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, to Colombia’s Millonarios for the 2013 season.
General manager Adrian Hanauer said as much in a conference call last week after Seattle acquired Joseph as its third DP.
“I’d be lying if I said we’re not also very interested in acquiring another forward,” Hanauer said. “And I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a player who could potentially fill that designated-player role or position, of which we’ve got three right now. So that kind of gives you a heads-up that we are considering all of our options over the next couple of weeks.”