SEATAC, Wash. — The journey had a few more twists and turns than was probably ideal, but Obafemi Martins finally touched down around 5:30 pm PT on Friday. About an hour later, the Nigerian international cleared customs and met the local media.
Within 24 hours, there’s a chance he’ll make his Seattle Sounders debut.
At the very least, Martins will be eligible for Saturday’s game against the Portland Timbers (8 pm ET; NBCSN, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“With all the traveling I’ve not been training for a couple days now … it all depends on the coach anyway,” Martins told the assembled media. “I’m ready to play. That’s why I’m here.”
Martins suggested he had been hoping to join the Sounders earlier, but that his former club Levante “made things a little bit not easy.” The La Liga club was reluctant to lose their leading scorer – Martins has nine goals in 24 games across all competitions this season – and reportedly refused to agree to a transfer fee, instead insisting upon his exit clause.
The fee for that clause was finally paid on Monday, clearing the way for him to join the Sounders.
“I wasn’t sure yet if I was going to come, it was because of Levante and all that,” Martins said. “All of a sudden I just decided to myself, ‘Why not? Let me try and come to a different league’ and all that.’”
Trying new leagues is something Martins is accustomed to. Since signing his first pro contract in 2000, he has played in Italy’s Serie A, the English Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga, the Russian Premier League and most recently in Spain’s La Liga, tallying 103 goals in 316 first team appearances.
The 28-year-old also made 38 appearances for Nigeria’s national team, scoring 18 international goals.
“I’m happy I’m here,” Martins said. “[Sounders sporting director] Chris Henderson came over to Valencia in Spain and tried as hard as possible to bring me here. Now I’m glad I’m here and I can’t wait to see my teammates.”
The Scouting Report: Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers