The transfer still hasn’t been formally announced, but that didn’t stop Seattle Sounders star Clint Dempsey from commenting on Obafemi Martins’ reported move from MLS to the Chinese Super League on Monday.
The US international, who spent 2 1/2 seasons as Martins’ strike partner in Seattle, praised the Nigerian, offering support for his imminent move to Shanghai Shenhua.
“At the end of the day, everybody has the right to choose their own path in their career,” Dempsey said on Monday at Seattle’s media day at CenturyLink Field. “I have a lot of respect for Oba. He’s come from a little kid in Nigeria to playing with some of the best clubs in the world. He’s had a great career. Who am I to tell him anything? All I can say is that I enjoyed my time playing with him. He was one of my favorite teammates I got to play with.”
Martins, 31, recorded 40 goals and 23 assists in 80 regular season and playoff appearances with Seattle. A MLS Best XI selection and MVP runner-up in 2014, he announced last week that he’d be leaving the Sounders for Shanghai.
Seattle will begin their 2016 season on Tuesday night, when they’ll host Club América in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series. Homegrown forward Jordan Morris, who signed with Seattle in January, will likely replace Martins in the Sounders’ 4-3-3 formation, lining up with Dempsey and Designated Player Nelson Valdez in Sigi Schmid’s forward line.
Sounders players don’t appear to be too concerned about a drop-off from Martins to Morris, with club captain Brad Evans praising the 21-year-old US international on Monday.
“I think we can all agree if we could choose a player to step in it would be Jordan,” Evans said on Monday. "Everybody in the locker room has been extremely happy, we haven't really spoken about Oba at all. From that standpoint, if we thought there was something missing, there would be more chatter. But the reality is we've been extremely happy with Jordan. He's developed into an extremely smart player."