Report: Argentine star Saviola to join Sounders in summer

There's a Designated Player spot free in Seattle and the rumor mill has been running wild. On Friday, a new name joined the fray, and it's a big one: Javier Saviola.

According to reports out of Argentina that cite Argentine TV network TyC Sports, the accomplished, diminutive striker will join the Sounders this summer. The 31-year-old is still under contract at La Liga club Málaga, where he is a teammate of Oguchi Onyewu.

The speedy Saviola – known as "El Conejo" ("The Rabbit") – is as pedigreed as they come, with starring roles at Barcelona, Real Madrid and Benfica, to name a few of his career stops. He joined Málaga last summer and has scored seven goals in 20 starts across all competitions for the Spanish club.

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The Buenos Aires native also has 11 goals in 40 caps for Argentina during a national team career that came to an end in 2007. He suited up for the Albiceleste at the 2006 World Cup, the '05 Confederations Cup, the '04 Copa América and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, where he netted a goal en route to Argentina's gold medal triumph.

Saviola began his career with Argentine powerhouse RIver Plate, where he was a teammate of former MLSers Juan Pablo Ángel and Marcelo Gallardo. He was voted South American Footballer of the Year in 1999 when he led River to the Argentine league title as a teenager.

Espanyol's Joan Verdú and Valencia's Nelson Haedo Váldez have also been mentioned as potential Seattle DPs to fill the spot vacated by the loan of Fredy Montero to Millonarios.

The Sounders had no comment on the report when contacted by MLSsoccer.com.