UPDATE (February 15; 1:00 pm ET)
Seattle GM and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey gave an update on the Obafemi Martins situation from Sounders camp in Southern California on Sunday night.
Here’s what he had to say:
“I can tell you that Oba is not here with us in this phase of camp. We’ve had an approach from a Chinese club for his services. It could take a while to have that resolved. There’s nothing else we can really add at this point, and we hope to know more by the end of the week.”
Lagerwey was also asked how Martins’ potential absence could affect the Sounders’ CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Club América, which will begin with the first leg in Seattle next Tuesday.
“I don’t think it has any impact on us, in the sense that we’ll go forward with this group," he said. "That’s who have been training. Those are the guys that are here. That’s the group that we’re going to rely upon. And that’s the group, by and large, that’s intact from last year that did pretty well at the end of last season. We’ll do what we need to do. We have contingency plans. If that third DP spot opens up, it gives us a lot more roster flexibility and the ability to implement our long-term vision for this team. If it doesn’t, we’ll have Obafemi Martins back, and that’ll be a good thing, too.”
Original Text (February 14)
The free-spending ways of China's rapidly growing Super League clubs has been the talk of this latest global transfer window. Jackson Martinez put six largely failed months at Atletico Madrid behind him on the heels of a $47.2 million move to Guangzhou Evergrande on Feb. 3, and just two days later Jiangsu Suning topped that with the acquisition of Brazilian attacker Alex Texeira from Shakhtar Donetsk for $56 million.
And now it looks like Seattle Sounders' Obafemi Martins is the latest to join that list. ESPN's Jeff Carlisle first reported that the Nigerian international striker had caught the eye of multiple CSL teams, and today the BBC said there's a landing spot: Shanghai Shenhua, for an as-yet undisclosed sum.
In just under three full years with Seattle Martins has produced 43 goals in 83 appearances across all competitions, and helped the sounders to their first Supporters' Shield in 2014 as well as that year's US Open Cup title, their fourth. Martins was an MVP finalist that season, losing out to LA Galaxy's Robbie Keane.
The 31-year-old had parlayed his strong MLS form into a return to the Super Eagles, picking up two caps at the tail end of 2015. He has 18 goals in 41 international appearances.
Other recognizable names at the Shanghai club include former Chelsea striker and Senegal international Demba Ba, as well as Australian legend Tim Cahill who endured three up-and-down years in MLS with the Red Bulls. Another former Sounders striker, Fredy Montero, was transferred to Tianjin Teda from Sporting CP last week.
Seattle, who have declined comment on the report, have two other Designated Players on the front line in Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez, as well as Homegrown striker Jordan Morris -- like Dempsey a full US international.
The Sounders kick off their 2016 campaign on Feb. 23 against Club America in the first leg of the quarterfinals of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.