Report: Star striker Obafemi Martins leaving Sounders for Chinese club

Feb 14, 2016, 10:00 AM | Updated: Feb 16, 2016, 8:58 am
Obafemi Martins, reportedly on his way to a Chinese club, has 34 goals in 83 Sounders appearances. ...
Obafemi Martins, reportedly on his way to a Chinese club, has 34 goals in 83 Sounders appearances. (AP)

The Seattle Sounders are potentially losing a potent scoring punch, as BBC Sport reports striker Obafemi Martins is leaving Seattle to join the Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua.

The 31-year-old Martins has scored 43 goals in 84 appearances for Sounders FC since 2013. He has been Seattle’s leading scorer for the last two seasons.

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The Sounders have not confirmed the deal, but the club released an audio statement from general manager and team president of soccer Garth Lagerwey late Sunday afternoon.

“I can tell you that Oba is not here with us in this phase in camp. We’ve had an approach from a Chinese club for his services,” Lagerwey said. “It could take a while to have that resolved. There’s really nothing else that we can add at this point but hopefully we know more by the end of the week.”

Whether Martins is with the team or not when the MLS season starts on March 6, Lagerwey maintained the team is ready.

“I don’t think it has any impact on us in the sense that we’ll go forward with this group. That’s who we’ve been training. Those are the guys that are here, those are the guys that we will rely upon … 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. And if it doesn’t, we’ll have Obafemi Martins back and that will be a good thing too.”

Martins signed a contract extension with the team last season, but the Seattle roster is clogged with three other forwards: Clint Dempsey, Nelson Valdez and therecently-signed Jordan Morris.

Terms of the reportedly multi-million dollar deal with the Chinese Super League team have not been released.

The Sounders website posted a story Saturday about Martins reportedly drawing interest from multiple clubs in the Chinese Super League. A call to the Sounders has not yet been returned.

Sign up for breaking sports updates assistant editor Brent Stecker contributed to this story.

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