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Despite “tortured” negotiations, Lodeiro worth the wait for Seattle

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“Even 5 years ago, the thought that the playmaking midfielder at Boca Juniors...would come and play in MLS in the prime of his career at 27 years old, was honestly unthinkable.”

Nicolas Lodeiro is a Sounder Photo Credit - MikeRussellFoto

The Nicolas Lodeiro saga has been nothing short of dramatic these past few months, going from whispers and sketchy tweets to Wednesday’s official reveal and announcement by the club. The Seattle Sounders, who were running out of time to make moves in the current transfer window, got the player who they’d been searching for "the last four-and-a-half months" according to general manager Garth Lagerwey at the club’s press conference announcing the signing.

Before the signing was official on Wednesday, Lagerwey mentioned that Lodeiro was the club’s "No. 1 guy." After it was official, the Sounders GM said that the club waited and waited, doing everything possible to get their target. Since Lodeiro was set on getting his former club, Boca Juniors, to the Copa Libertadores final, the Sounders had to wait longer than they had hoped. But Lagerwey said they wanted the player so badly, waiting "a couple extra weeks" was entirely worth it.

As for why the Sounders were so dogged in their pursuit of Lodero, Lagerwey gushed with praise for the player. He mentioned Lodeiro’s prestigious career with Uruguay, as well as his many trophies during a career that has taken him to such clubs as for Ajax, Botafogo, Nacional, and Boca Juniors. But in slightly more abstract terms, Lagerwey wanted to emphasize "that it’s not just that he’s been on good teams or played with good players or played in big games, but that everywhere he’s gone, Nico has won and he’s made his teams better."

A term that Lagerwey likes to use is "force magnifiers," which he refers to as someone who boosts the performance of those around him. He said Lodeiro is the type of player who will amplify the performance of his teammates, because "we have one of the elite forwards in the league in Clint Dempsey, the most talented young forward in the league in Jordan Morris, a designated player in Nelson Valdez, a veteran like Herculez Gomez and a youngster in Oalex Anderson." He said because the Sounders have such a solid forward corps, they need a player like Lodeiro "to create higher-quality chances, get Clint closer to goal, give him better chances and more looks in a game so he doesn’t have to carry so much of the burden by himself."

Sporting Director Chris Henderson said Lodeiro is "a player who can change the game at any moment, he has great energy, technical ability in tight spaces, he’s good with both feet, fantastic left foot on free kicks, and he has a winning mentality." He said he thinks Lodeiro will be one of the best Designated Player signings in the club’s history, and that he expects the player to lead the team with his leadership and "infectious" winning mentality.

This was a common theme in the press conference, that Lodeiro is a "winner" that positively affects every team on which he plays. Interim head coach Brian Schmetzer has mentioned multiple times this week that he’s very excited about the prospect of getting Lodeiro on the pitch and in sync with Dempsey. "You pair a guy like Nico with the best field player this country’s ever produced, they’re going to be a dynamic pair." Schmetzer sees Lodeiro’s attitude as being a huge boost both on the field and off, and that the squad is "going to get a good burst of energy from Nico’s appearance with the club."

As for why Lodeiro chose to accept Seattle’s pursuit of him and sign with the club, he specifically noted the influence of former (not for long) Sounder Alvaro "Flaco" Fernandez, with whom he is great friends. According to Lodeiro, as soon as he told his friend about the interest from the Sounders, Fernandez said "don’t even think about it, just go. The city is beautiful, the people are amazing, the fans are great, so you shouldn’t even waste your time thinking about it." Lodeiro said his friend’s advice was a very big part of his decision to come to Seattle, and it looks like Fernandez will also be taking his own advice: Lagerwey said that he hopes to have the player back on the books with the Sounders within 24 hours.

Even though Lodeiro hasn’t even kicked a ball for the club yet, it’s already looking like one of the most important DP signings not only in Seattle Sounders history, but also in MLS history. Lagerwey credited the growth of the league and said that "even 5 years ago, the thought that the playmaking midfielder at Boca Juniors...would come and play in MLS in the prime of his career at 27 years old, was honestly unthinkable." Despite the lengthy negotiations that Lagerwey called "tortured, even anguished," it’s clear that the Sounders knew who they wanted and did absolutely everything they could to get his signature. If Lodeiro turns out to be even half the player that the club touts him to be, he could be regarded as one of the greatest transfer coups in Major League Soccer history.