All offseason long, there have been whispers that the Seattle Sounders are on the hunt for a new Designated Player to pair in attack with Eddie Johnson.
On Monday, there came word that they've zeroed in on their target. Levante UD and Nigeria national team forward Obafemi Martins is, according to Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl and confirmed by MLSsoccer.com, in negotiations with a Sounders representative to fill the attacking void left by the winter departure of Fredy Montero.
Martins, a 28-year-old with a resume that includes the likes of Inter Milan and Newcastle United, has nine goals in 20 appearances across all competitions for Levante this season, best on the team. The tiny Valencia side is currently 10th in the La Liga standings, and have made it to the Europa Cup Round of 16 thanks to a 4-0 aggregate win over Olympiacos of Greece.
Seattle general manager Adrian Hanauer had previously told NBC Sports Network's Arlo White that Martins is "the sort of player" the Sounders would be interested, but hadn't specifically confirmed that interest. The team has also been linked in various reports to Espanyol playmaker Joan Verdú, Málaga's Javier Saviola and Valencia's Nelson Haedo Váldez.
In order to sign Martins, Seattle would have to clear out another DP slot. They currently have Mauro Rosales, newly acquired Shalrie Joseph and holdover Christian Tiffert under contract, but Tiffert's future seems in doubt after the German midfielder was absent from Seattle's preseason trip to Arizona.