UPDATED- Martins pays own Levante buyout, confirms move to Seattle Sounders

ObaMartins (Getty)


The Seattle Sounders’ long rumored move for striker Obafemi Martins is nearing completion as the Nigerian has paid his buyout clause with Levante, clearing the way for Seattle.

(UPDATE- Martins looks to have confirmed his move to Seattle on Twitter.)

A designated player slot was opened up by Seattle with the buyout of midfielder Christian Tiffert in preseason after just half a season in the Emerald City.  Martins will occupy that third and final DP slot after Mauro Rosales and Shalrie Joseph have already been given that designation.

Obafemi Martins is most notable for his time with Inter Milan in Italy and Newcastle United in England, appearing for each club 88 times and scoring a total of 56 goals over an eight year period.

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108 Responses to UPDATED- Martins pays own Levante buyout, confirms move to Seattle Sounders

  1. sammysounder says:

    This is not getting an out of favor striker, or someone riding the pine. This is the hostile removal of a team’s top striker. This is new territory for MLS.


    • Old School says:

      I agree that’s a new dynamic but let’s wait and see how he attacks his career in MLS.

      I have a huge amount of pessimism with Martins, despite acknowledging he has a lot of talent.

    • steve says:

      i like it

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      $3 million Euros would be an unusually high MLS payment for a loan or transfer, even if it’s in the form of a buyout. But I think Seattle may be getting desperate at being good but not great, and if anyone has the attendance to financially afford something like this, it’s Seattle.

      One thing no one’s touched on yet is he and EJ are of a forward type and not seemingly complimentary strikers. IMO he’s much better than EJ but it’s like when Houston signed a bunch of target strikers a few years ago and then traded away Oduro. Martins would make more sense playing off a target. You need a mix of styles up top to get the ball down the field quickly while maintaining possession.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        Dollars, euros, I know…..

      • Helium-3 says:

        Yes, you are correct both of them are out and out strikers and they won’t be complementing each other but competing against each other. Estrada is another out and out striker, so that leaves Ochoa as one who could play with Obafemi.

      • Travis in Miami says:

        Depth for a team that seems to take all competitions – MLS Cup, USOC, CCL. Also, EJ can be used as winger…

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          Depth is all well and good, and you can always shuffle EJ elsewhere on the field or off someplace else, but in terms of building a winner Martins would be best served by a target alongside him that he could play off.

          This has been a long term complaint of mine about Seattle, is that the usually well considered Sigi lineups with tactical balance haven’t been put together there. Seattle keeps signing slashers or speedsters — which makes sense on turf — but there is no pivot for them to play off.

  2. Josh D says:

    A great pickup. Martins was excellent for Inter when he first came up the system. I seem to recall a good relationship with Adriano. However, like Adriano, he has completely fallen of the tracks. He has had success at Levante however, so it’s interesting that he forced his way to Seattle. He must really like rain…

    • ed - houston says:

      Seriously, he must be hard up to leave to pay his own buyout clause. On the other hand he wil making good $$ at Seattle. I still don’t believe he will be their savior though.

    • Helium-3 says:

      It might have been difficult for Obafemi to adapt to living in Levante because they speak
      Catalan. Even if you know Spanish, everything is written in Catalan and it is like WTF for the first time an English speaker travels there.

      Not everyone in (Catalunya) even attempts to speak in Castillian if you ask them a question. It was like this for me in Barcelona but I knew French and was able to decipher some of the Catalan language. I can only imagine if he didn’t know Spanish and was trying to adapt to life there with just English (and Italian).

      • Clyde Frog says:

        He was in Russia prior to his stint in Levante. I doubt he’s the type to be too freaked out because the local language is unfamiliar.

      • Original Aaron says:

        It has been my personal experience that people in Catalunya who are of the political/social persuasion that causes them to not want to answer a question asked in Castillano, are perfectly happy to converse with you in any other language. So as long as you know a third language that the person you are talking to also knows, then you should be good to go. Also, many Catalans speak English and French in addition to Catalan and Castillano (which the definitely speak- even if they don’t want to).

  3. Steve C says:

    So, he played 88 games for both Inter & Newcastle, and scored 28 goals for each team. How weird is that?!

    On topic: 28 years old. Great signing, MLS. I can’t wait to read some of the negative nancy comments on espn’s website, where the trolls flock in full force.

  4. elgringorico says:

    DCU Fan here. I would argue this is more awesome than any other move the MLS has pulled off so far outside of Beckham/Henry

  5. A says:

    Hostile takeover!

    Definitely a first for MLS–raiding a top club’s in form striker. This guy is going to score goals like nobody’s business.

    • Reality says:

      … provided he doesn’t hurt himself while doing a backflip in celebration of his first Sounders goal.

      • AzTeXan says:

        Martins will be the Sounders black hole son. He’ll wash away the pain. Of playoff failures past.

  6. Corp Exec. says:

    MARTINS #EBFG !!!!!!!!!

  7. johnathan says:

    Anyone who is pessimistic just hasn’t seen Martins play… Imagine wondowloski but big strong fast and actually good… Martins will destroy this league

    • Old School says:

      Except Obefemi isn’t “big”, so I’m starting to question whether or not you’ve actually seen him play.

      He has a wealth of talent but I’m not confident of his attitude, interest and effort. Like I said, let’s see how this turns out before we say he’s going to take over the league.

      Excited about his arrival? Sure.

      • A says:

        I’m guessing he meant big as in built. Because Martins is just solid muscle and strength.

        • Old School says:

          Since you’re answering for them: Wasn’t that covered in their “strong” portion of the description?

          • A says:

            I wouldn’t assume so.

            I think people have differing thoughts on what constitutes strong and big.

            Skinny people can be very strong–like Messi. But nobody would describe him as big.

      • Wispy says:

        Not sure about his attitude or effort, but paying his own buy-out certainly suggests he’s interested…

    • steve says:

      dont diss wondo

    • ed - houston says:

      i have watched him at inter and more so at newcastle. there is no doubt he is good, but “destroy this league” is a strech, we will see…..

    • Josh D says:

      Wondo is a 18 yard box predator. In all the years watching Martins play, I wouldn’t put him in that category. As someone mentioned above, he’s more in the EJ mold: fast, a dribbler, and a little tricky. I think one of his biggest letdowns is his finishing, which is Wondo’s only strength.

    • Gary Page says:

      His last 2 years in the EPL he kind of just faded away. Spent a lot of time on the bench and out of favor. Haven’t followed him since, hope he got his mojo back.

  8. RK says:

    3 million euros!

  9. RK says:

    This really hurts Levante; he had scored some key goals in Europa, and was their leading goalscorer.

  10. Tony in Quakeland says:

    DId Eddie Johnson just kick something?

    Kidding! Sort of – While EJ worked like a GAM the last two games, he didn’t score. And I think Seattle is a finsher away from being the leagues best team

  11. Murph says:

    Can he play right away? How does that work with the transfer window rules? I can’t remember.

    • A says:

      If he himself paid the buyout clause, then I’m guessing he just bought out of the club and was thus a free agent to sign whenever he wanted.

    • Nic D "the TX 2 Stepper" says:

      The “Bosman” Buy Out situation makes him a free agent. This allowing him to sign anywhere he wants pending his ITC and work permit.

    • Murph says:


  12. CSD says:

    I am guessing Levante fans won’t be buying new XBOX’s anytime soon.

  13. JJ says:



  14. Chupacabra says:

    The problem is that Martins is paying for the Levante buyout with funds he’s getting from a Nigerian prince looking to transfer large sums of money out of the country.

  15. Graham says:

    The question is, how many months before SIgi and the Sounders run him off and point fingers. It’s an old Seattle tradition.

  16. Beast says:

    2013 MLS Cup Final Champion Seattle Sounders

    • ed - houston says:

      dude you just jinxed them, now they aren’t going to win crap, well maybe, USO cup.

  17. el paso tx says:

    Good move by sounders but next year should get interesting. Put it this way, if Sounders dont win MLS cup or Champions League (besides Open Cup) I Sigi is out. Sigi now needs to show everybody why he is the manager of the Sounders and why he is “one of the best managers in MLS.” As for my prediction with all respect to sounders fans, Sounders wont win a trophy this year, including MLS Cup, Champions and US Cup. Therefore I think Sounders will let go Sigi and get a top manager with a lot of experience for 2014, which Mauro Rosales and Joseph wont be DPs next year and that means Sounders big season should be next year. Sounders eventually will have two Dp spots open for MLS season 2014 and that is a very fun scary thought for MLS. So if Sounders have been watching what the Galaxy have been doing, then does that mean they will get 2 big names next year once Rosales is out and Joseph as well.

    • sammysounder says:

      That’s a great way to turn the Sounders into TFC.

    • scott47a says:

      Sigi is out? Do you have some insider knowledge?
      And when healthy Rosales is a key, key member of this team. He may not be around next year given his age, but the idea that he should be replaced with a “bigger name” doesn’t do justice to his contribution to the Sounders. It was night and day when he was hurt during the playoffs. He is the offensive engine.

  18. Eugene says:

    Great signing for Seattle. Martins is very fast and a quality finisher. Once he builds chemistry with EJ, Seattle will have a top striker corp and will be the favorites to win the West, assuming they can get their defense squared away.

    Sigi Schmid going for the win this year, after 5 years of building.

  19. Jason says:

    Great signing, just wonder how he will adapt to the artifical turf, not sure he’s ever played a game on it, anyone else concerned?

    • chazz4444 says:

      He has played in the Russian league with Rubin Kazan and there are a couple teams that play on turf.

    • eddie says:

      I was thinking the same. Turf is horrid and should be outlaw in professional soccer. He played in Russia for a little while, so I assume he’s accustomed to playing on the crap.

  20. chuco tx says:

    MLS DP waiting list=
    Drogba Casillas Sneijder Owen
    Lampard tim howard ronaldinho kaka
    samuel eto fabregas torres
    rooney tevez riquelme
    forlan ( any others)
    MLS teams that open their wallet for real DPs (while they last)=
    Galaxy, Red Bull, Toronto, new member sounders.

    • Graham says:

      And on your list of wallet openers only the Galaxy win anything. There are several guys on that list that I would not want to see on my team anyway. I’d rather get guys that are going to win and not just sign big names that turn my club into a clown show like Red Bulls, TFC, and Seattle.

    • baropbop says:

      Exactly. I just don’t see how Sounders fan is o.k. with Rosales, Joseph, Martins as the 3 DPs. With consistent revenue and super deep pockets of ownership, I don’t get why they haven’t been more ambitious. Obviously DPs aren’t all you need to win…but it definitely doesn’t hurt. Despite “selling out” every game their are still plenty of empty seats in that stadium and lots of jerseys to sell…oh, and winning championships.
      Also surprised that, to my knowledge, the league as a whole isn’t pressuring them to aim higher.

      • TheeContender says:

        A significant part of Shalrie Joseph’s contract is being paid by Chivas. He is a DP in title, but not in terms of how his salary affects the cap. The Sounders got a deal on him during the Chivas Fire-Sale, and at the time of his signing, the Sounders were already up against the salary cap. Centurylink also seats 60,000 + It’s not realistic to think they could fill those “empty seats” every match. At least not right now. 2012 AVG League Attendance: 43,144!

    • scott47a says:

      Owen? Riquelme? Is it 2006?

  21. wilyboy says:

    He’s 28. Name recognition aside, this might be the biggest steal in DP history.

  22. Iggy says:

    I am assuming him paying out his own buyout clause (and likely signing a higher than market rate for his new contract) is how Seattle got around garber’s front that “MLS doesnt pay transfer fees”?

  23. Good Jeremy says:

    Eddie Johnson is just happy he isn’t the only black guy in Washington state anymore.

    • eddie says:

      Wow, what a crappy thing to say and so untrue.

      • Good Jeremy says:

        Sorry EJ, I forgot about Phoenix Jones.

        • TL says:

          Good????? Jeremy. Why do you have to bring up his color? Wow! How ignorant people are to the fact that they only see people by the color of their skin. His color should not even come into the conversation.

          • Jerrod says:

            I think it was just a joke. Despite the fact that it isn’t factually accurate, I laughed a little. That can happen sometimes.

    • Charles says:

      What a stupid thing to even think about. Who cares if he is black, white, whatever.
      Plus completely incorrect. The population where I live ( in the heart of Seattle and right next to stadium ) is 1/3 black.
      Might be the most ignorant comment ever posted here….and that is saying quite a bit.

    • AtléticoUnionCity says:

      I’m not one for political correctness, but, there is no reason to inject color in this conversation. You’re not funny. Later you try to deflect criticism from yourself by pointing out that “Washington isn’t the most diverse place in the world”. You’re absolutely pitiful and deserve to be shunned.

  24. TL says:

    Wow! I mean Wow! What are we? Back in the 50’s?

  25. Good Jeremy says:

    I guess I should clarify. That was meant as a joke about the Pacific Northwest, not a racist remark.
    Washington isn’t the most diverse place in the world. That’s all.

    • Good Jeremy says:

      oh, and now my joke is forcing comments to await moderation again.
      I guess I lose the internet today.

      • TL says:

        No. Your so called joke hit a cord with my 15year old child. He was not sure why someone would say such a thing. WE! In todays world. Don’t give a rats ass about the color of skin. ( People who do, are ignorant, stupid, uneducated and in some serious need of updating their understanding of the world. You could be in the new world and realize the revulation that we are all together in this world. Colors don’t matter. We all come from the same creator. Or you can continue to be an ignorant, uneducated son of a bitch. Good luck too you in finding yourself. And don’t reply back that this is an over reaction. You are a bigget. Work on yourself.

        • Lil' Zeke says:

          This is an overreaction

          • mhmmmm says:

            Yes it is. The joke wasn’t funny but its time to step down off your high horse and get the holier than thou attitude under control. He made a bad joke that really didn’t have anything hateful in it at all. Take a chill pill my man. tell him it wasn’t funny and move along

        • Good Jeremy says:

          I think my so called joke went straight over your head.

          But, Since it’s pretty much being panned by the entire board I’ll go hide in the corner and accept that saying that isn’t acceptable, but pointing out that Washington isn’t diverse doesn’t make me Archie Bunker either. I’ll make sure to never again point out things such as Washington being mostly white, because any mention of race in conversation makes me a biggot.

          • WickedGiMP says:

            Actually western Washington in particular is much more diverse in terms of people of different races living amongst each other. While its true that there isn’t a particularly huge “black” population in WA due to migration patterns across the US, there are a number of other cultures present here. I would argue that Washington is much more diverse than you give it credit for.

  26. Jay Bonds says:

    Martins will be a great addition to MLS. At 28 still young and revived his career at Levante; just was not getting paid weekly there in the Valencia area.

  27. Adam says:

    We also have a few Asians

  28. Adam says:

    Martins will be good. Hope he and EJ work together.

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