The top goalscorer in the Seattle Sounders’ MLS history may be returning to Cascadia – as a showcase signing for their bitter rivals to the north.


Colombian newspaper El Heraldo first reported on Sunday that Fredy Montero, who starred for Seattle from 2009 to 2012 before making a high-profile transfer to Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon, is close to inking a return to MLS with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Citing two credible, but anonymous, sources, the report stated that “only a few details are missing” to complete Montero’s move to Vancouver, who have been searching for a top-class striker to spearhead their attack since the departure of 2013 MLS Golden Boot winner Camilo Sanvezzo for Mexico’s Queretaro under controversial circumstances three years ago.


On Monday, ESPN FC reported that it also had received multiple confirmations from unnamed sources that Montero was on his way to BC Place -- and added that the deal would be a one-year loan with an option to buy.


Now 29, Montero is currently with Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda, having joined the flow of talent from Europe to the Far East a year ago in a move that reportedly cost Tianjin $5.3 million. He scored nine goals last year as the club finished in 10th place in the CSL, which recently imposed new limits on the number of foreigners allowed for the coming season.


“We haven't managed to find a 15-to-20-goal striker since Camilo left,” Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson told MLSsoccer.com this month. “He managed to catch fire and score 22 goals, win top goalscorer, and then left. Since that moment, we've managed to find guys that have scored around double figures.


“Of course we're always looking for a center forward that can score 25 goals, but they're very few and far between and obviously they cost a little bit of money.”


Montero scored 47 goals and 34 assists – both Sounders franchise records – in 119 regular-season MLS appearances (109 starts), plus another two assists over 10 postseason matches. He met and married his wife, Seattle native Alexis Immig, during his time in the Emerald City and often returns to visit, most recently this winter.

Multiple reports have linked Montero, who has made four international appearances for Colombia, with a move away from Tianjin due to the foreign player limit. Despite his solid goal total, he called 2016 “a difficult year” in an interview with El Heraldo as Tianjin flirted with relegation before finishing in mid-table.


Were Montero to return to MLS, he would be subject to the allocation process, as Seattle received a transfer fee from his move to Portugal. The Whitecaps presently sit fifth in the Allocation Ranking Order, with Minnesota United in the top spot.