As the pursuit of Christian Tiffert continues on, the Seattle Sounders have another, potentially bigger, transfer on their minds: Espanyol's Joan Verdu. With several Spanish outlets already reporting they are "very interested," Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer confirmed that the 29-year-old is a player they have been tracking for some time.
"This is not the first player linked to us during this transfer window, and it will probably not be the last," Hanauer said.
One report suggests the Sounders are willing to offer Verdu a contract similar to that of David Beckham or Thierry Henry, which would be in the $6 million range. That seems to be a rather absurd amount of money for a player with very little name recognition, but he is the captain for a La Liga team that is currently in his prime. Acquiring a player like that -- name recognition or not -- would certainly "move the needle," as so many MLS officials are fond of saying.
Verdu is a product of Barcelona's famed La Masia and has been a steady contributor during his six full season in Spain's top flight. His breakout year came in 2007-8 when he scored seven goals and had five assists for Deportivo La Coruna and has scored 14 goals in three seasons with Espanyol. Known more as a central playmaker, he's had five goals and five assists in each of the past two seasons, as his team has hovered around the middle of the table.
Before we get too excited about this possibility, it's worth pointing out that Verdu seems to have made it pretty clear that his preference is to remain in Spain. The Sounders have supposedly offered to bring him and his wife out to Seattle for a tour of the facilities, but he has yet to accept. It's also suggested that a transfer in the winter may be more likely.
Verdu is also under contract until June 2013 and has been trying to negotiate an extension for several months. Even if Espanyol decides they can't afford him, the Sounders would still have to pay a potentially significant transfer fee. TransferMrket.co.uk estimates his value to be into the mid-seven figures, which would probably be a record amount for a MLS team to pay.
The Sounders would obviously have to move one of their current Designated Players in order to make room for Verdu and signing him would almost certainly preclude signing Tiffert, as both seem to play very similar positions anyway.