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South Korean center back reportedly joining Sounders

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Kim Kee-Hee was on the outs after his Chinese Super League team needed to free up an international roster spot.

South Korea v United States Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The Chinese Super League may not be signing players at the breakneck speed it once was, but its restrictive roster rules continue to pay dividends for the Seattle Sounders.

The Sounders appear to have found their depth center back in South Korean Kim Kee-Hee. The 28-year-old was left looking for a new team after Shanghai Shenhau FC found itself with too many internationals. Although there’s been no official reports of the news, several outlets in China are reporting it as finalized.

This is a similar situation to the one that resulted in the Sounders signing Gustav Svensson last year. In Svensson’s case, Guangzhou R&F picked up a big chunk of his contract which kept him from being a TAM player. The financials of this deal remain unknown.

An account out of China is reporting that he’ll be on his way to Seattle a day after reports that the club planned to sell him to an MLS side after signing Oscar Romero. Shanghai Shenhau already had Giovanni Moreno (their captain) and former Sounder Obafemi Martins as their foreign players.

Kee-Hee has spent most of his career playing in the Korean League where he won two titles with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. He transferred to Shanghai in 2016 for $6m in what his agent called the biggest transfer in Korean history. With the Korean National Team in 2012, he won a bronze medal at the London Olympics and still sees semi-regular call-ups to the full national team. There’s a decent chance he’d be named to South Korea’s World Cup roster. Although he’s primarily played center back, he has also played as a right back.