BREAKING: Levante's official website acknowledges that Martins' exit fee has been paid and that he's been released from the club. Only thing waiting is confirmation from the Sounders.
UPDATE: Latest report suggest the fee has already been paid and that Martins will be flying to Seattle on Tuesday.
UPDATE 2: Levante's president has confirmed Martins' intentions.
* * *
The Obafemi Martins-transfer saga may be finally nearing a conclusion. A few days after the Nigerian striker came down with a mysterious stomach ailment, Spanish-based media are now reporting that the Seattle Sounders are expected to pay the nearly $4 million exit clause. There's no confirmation as to that happening, yet, but the reports suggest Martins is preparing to join the the Sounders immediately.
This comes, perhaps predictably, after news of an imminent transfer had actually started to die down. The breakthrough may have been the first leg of Levante's Europa League Round-of-16 match against Rubin Kazan last week. Levante was forced to settle for a 0-0 tie in their home leg.
Levante's hopes of returning to Europa League next year have also taken a hit in recent weeks. They have gone winless in their past six La Liga matches, are 1-5-3 since Jan. 9 and have fallen to 10th.
Assuming this all goes as planned, Martins could be eligible to join the Sounders as early as next week. CONCACAF Champions League roster rules mandate that a player must be added no less than 48 hours prior to their knockout round matches, which means Martins could conceivably play in the semifinals on April 2-4 and April 9-11.