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What to make of Nico Lodeiro’s apparent desire to return to Boca Juniors

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Lodeiro made some comments to South American media that at least bring up some questions.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

One of the low-key, but ongoing rumors over the past couple weeks is that Nicolas Lodeiro is interested in returning to Boca Juniors. There hasn’t really been much to write about, though, as it seemed more like speculation than anything concrete. Plus, Lodeiro talks about not only wanting to be here, but even convincing his friends to come to MLS all the time.

But now there’s a story out of South America that quotes Lodeiro saying things like “It’s impossible to say no to Boca” and “If it were up to me, I would return.” At the very least, it’s time to address these rumors straight on.

So, what do you make of them?

There’s no way around it, Lodeiro has a special place in his heart for his former team. Is he just putting on niceties with these comments? That’s possible. But he could have easily chosen language that wasn’t that nice!

Why the sudden change of heart?

Let’s be clear about this, at no point in this story nor at any point since he arrived has Lodeiro suggested he’s not happy here. I don’t know that there’s even been a sudden change of heart.

Let’s assume there was, though.

OK, if we just take his comments at face value we can come up with at least one big reason why he might want to return to Boca Juniors: He wants to ensure he’s on the World Cup squad. While he’s remained in the Uruguay national team, Lodeiro only has five appearances and two starts since moving to the Seattle Sounders over a span of about 18 months. He didn’t have a single start last year and he’s far from a lock for the World Cup. Playing for a massive club like Boca, who will be in the Copa Libertadores is one way to potentially get back into the squad.

Now you have me worried.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. Lodeiro didn’t force himself out of Boca in 2016 and there’s no reason to think he’s going to pull any such shenanigans with the Sounders, so any move would probably just come down to money. Adrian Hanauer has often said “every player has a price” and surely that goes for Lodeiro too. But Lodeiro makes more now than he did with Boca and the Sounders paid a $6 million fee less than two years ago. After all they went through to get Lodeiro, I can’t imagine the Sounders are inclined to just give him back at a discount.

My pulse is returning to normal...

It’s also important to note that Lodeiro makes it very clear no one has actually contacted him about a move and that he heard about the rumors the same way you and I did, through the press. Until Boca coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto is the one making the calls, I don’t think we need to be too worried.

What’s your read on this?

I think Lodeiro is worried about his place in the national team and is probably at least open to the idea of going back Boca Juniors at some point. But most of the reasons he came to Seattle remain the same: He’s making more money and this seems to be everything he imagined as far as lifestyle goes. I suspect we’ll get to hear more from Lodeiro himself soon, but for now I’m not too worried.