Martins has already joined his new club, which will open the Super League season March 5.
Over three regular seasons, Martins recorded 40 goals and 23 assists in 72 appearances (66 starts) and was a two-team team MVP and 2014 Best XI selection.
Chinese clubs have shaken the world market this winter by spending exorbitant fees on players, such as Colombian striker Jackson Martinez (Atletico Madrid), Brazilian midfielder Ramires (Chelsea) and Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris Saint-Germain).
Martins’ official departure might coincide with the Sounders’ first competitive match of the 2016 campaign, Tuesday’s first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals against Mexico’s Club America at CenturyLink Field.
Seattle remains well-equipped in the attack with Clint Dempsey, Nelson Valdez and Jordan Morris, who joined the club from Stanford University this winter after a meteoric rise with the U.S. national team. Martins’ exit does provide roster and salary cap flexibility for additional moves at some point this season.
“We’re going to take our time, and we’re going to replace Oba,” Sounders General Manager Garth Lagerwey said Monday. “Maybe not position for position, maybe not player for player. But I think some of the replacements will come from the group, in terms of how we collectively play. And I think we’re going to look to add some more talent.”
So whatever happened to Perry Kitchen anyway?
It’s been more than two months since the defensive midfielder turned down D.C. United’s contract offer of more than $400,000 with multiple guaranteed seasons. Last year, he had a base salary of $172,000 and overall compensation of $257,450. It wasn’t all about money, however. His heart was set on Europe and, on Jan. 1, he was free to go. (United retained his MLS rights because it had extended a bonafide offer.)
Kitchen, who turns 24 next week, was rumored to be heading to Germany or Denmark. As he awaited a deal, the Indiana native reported to U.S. national team training camp in Carson, Calif., with two dozen other MLS types. In the Americans’ two friendlies, Kitchen was ready to report into the Iceland match when the final whistle sounded and, days later, he entered in the waning moments against Canada for his third cap.
No one seems quite sure what will happen next. One source said Kitchen might end up in Sweden or Norway.
Multiple messages left for his representatives were not returned.
United could trade his MLS rights, but at last check, no teams had made a formal offer. Many MLS clubs would love to have a young, battle-tested defensive midfielder, but with the season starting in less than two weeks, most have finalized the senior roster.
Last week, FC Dallas and starting right back Je-Vaughn Watson mutually agreed to terminate his contract. Watson, a Jamaican national team member, had sought a trade to a team closer to Philadelphia, where his 7-year-old daughter with a hearing disability lives.
Although Watson is no longer with Dallas, the club was able to retain his MLS rights. Any team interested in acquiring him would have to negotiate a trade. As in Kitchen’s case, however, most clubs have finalized their senior roster.
Watson, 32, played three seasons with Dallas and started 51 league matches the past two years. A longtime midfielder, he shifted to the backline last season and played a key role in Dallas finishing atop the Western Conference regular season standings and second in the Supporters’ Shield race.