Transfer rumors have become pretty standard fare around these parts over the last few years. Like clockwork, it seems, any player interested in coming to MLS seems to be linked to the Seattle Sounders, at least loosely. The trick has become not so much finding these rumors, it’s choosing which ones to share.
Gonzalez, in case you missed it, is a 23-year-old Paraguay international who’s currently playing for Ukrainian power Dynamo Kyiv. Despite his relative youth, he’s already established himself as a regular on a team that often competes for a World Cup spot in one of the world’s toughest federations and has already been named a Paraguay Footballer of the Year (2015). He’s also a player who demanded a nearly $10 million transfer fee just a couple years ago.
Let’s see if we can’t provide some further context around this rumor...
Is he actually any good?
Look, I can’t pretend to offer an extensive scouting report on this guy, but I can tell you that if you google his name you’re going to find a ton of highlight videos. The kid can definitely play. For starters, though, just check out this goal he scored in a World Cup qualifier against Argentina.
If Dynamo just paid all that money for him, why would they be selling him now?
Great question! From the looks of it, Dynamo may be in a bit of financial straits. They’re budget relies heavily upon making Champions League and after their disappointing fourth-place finish in this year’s group stage, they are 13 points out of a spot for next year. That’s a lot of lost revenue. Gonzalez is one of their most salable — and reasonably replaceable — assets, according to FutbolGrad.com, and is a prime candidate to be moved.
How much would he cost?
Wow, that’s a lot of money.
It sure is! In fact, at today’s exchange rate that would be more than a MLS team has ever paid for a player.
Why is he being linked to the Sounders?
Because Gonzalez, himself, said that was a team interested in him. In fact, it was the only team Gonazlez mentioned during an interview with a Paraguay radio station. He added that he’d even discussed the move with Paraguay teammate Miguel Almiron, who plays for Atlanta United. (Almiron corroborated that conversation on Friday.) According to Gonzalez, this could all be resolved within a week. We also know that Sporting Director Chris Henderson was in Sao Paulo during Paraguay’s game against Brazil.
So, is this legit?
There’s been no comment from the Sounders and I’ve not even heard any rumblings about this behind the scenes, so I’m still a little skeptical. It’s worth considering that as recently as this week, GM Garth Lagerwey was pointing out that one of the reasons the Sounders passed on Almiron — whose discovery rights they held -- was because of the price tag. Gonzalez might be even more expensive.
But maybe it’s not so much about the money as it is about identifying the right kind of player. While Almiron is clearly very talented, he’s also more of a central midfielder. The Sounders don’t need a central midfielder, especially not with Clint Dempsey playing the way he is.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, has mostly played out wide and has extensive experience on both wings. He’s also a bit more traveled and accomplished, having played in Europe since transferring to Benfica as an 18-year-old and claiming 27 caps with the senior national team that includes to Copa Americas and 10 World Cup qualifiers.
What’s this mean for the Keisuke Honda and Hilal Soudani rumors?
Well, we haven’t heard anything definitive on Honda’s move since it was rumored to be just “hours away” from going down and the whole situation with AC Milan’s sale is absolute shambles. (Update: Italian media seems to think Honda may go to MLS but no longer to the Sounders.) But the Sounders are also known to have their irons in multiple fires at the same time and I suspect there are other players they’re looking at for potential transfers that we don’t know about. But price tag aside, it does seem like Gonzalez checks a lot more boxes than Honda. In the case of Hilal Soudani, that door appears closed after he signed an extension with Dinamo Zagreb today.
Should I be excited?
Rumors like this one don’t come along too often. And while I’ve already stated my reasons for skepticism, I’ve also learned to never completely write off the possibility of the Sounders surprising me. This is a team who pried away Obafemi Martins from a Europa League team in the middle of the year, lured away Nico Lodeiro from the biggest team in the Western Hemisphere and managed to land Dempsey when the idea seemed entirely preposterous. That doesn’t mean this deal will get done, but I wouldn’t put it past the Sounders to make it happen.