Garth Lagerwey has clearly stated the Seattle Sounders intend to sign a Designated Player during the summer transfer window and has effectively guaranteed that the team will commit an “eight-figure investment” in order to make that happen. There’s a lot of wiggle room in that statement, but based on a variety of things we can reasonably assume a vague outline for that player.
We know almost for certain that they are targeting an attacking player, likely one who can play as a No. 9 but who may also be able to play as a wing. The target age range seems be between 22 and 27 years old.
It’s not much to go by when trying to comb through a list of potential targets, but it does seem to suggest that the Sounders might be the unnamed MLS team MLSsoccer.com confirmed put in a bid on former Argentina youth international Sergio Araujo. Reporter Sam Stejskal was following up on a report on the website of La Liga club UD Las Palmas, which claimed an MLS team had offered the equivalent of about $12 million for Araujo but the club had rejected it. That’s probably a bit more than the Sounders would be willing to spend, but Stejskal’s reporting suggested the offer was actually for closer to $4 million (TransferMarkt.com pegs his value at around €2 million). Araujo also makes about $1 million a year, and even with a hefty bump to $2 million a year and a 3.5-year contract, you can probably assume a team was willing to invest about $11 million in Araujo. That’s a number very close to what the Sounders are probably looking to spend.
Considering the original report was on Las Palmas’ site, they might not actually be looking to move Araujo, though. They are effectively guaranteed to be relegated to the the second division next year, and the team’s management is quoted as saying Araujo is one of the players they are hoping to help them regain promotion. There’s some good logic for that: Araujuo bagged 25 league goals with eight assists for Las Palmas the last time they were in the second division and was a major reason they gained promotion in the first place.
At 26, Araujo isn’t the type of player Las Palmas is likely to build around at this point, but he’s under contract through 2020 and has a proven track record. His market value might not be anymore than $4 million, but it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if Las Palmas would want considerably more than that if they believe he’s the type of player who can get them back to the top flight. It’s, of course, also possible they are just trying to drive up the price.
Economics aside, Araujo fits the mold for potential Sounders target. Primarily a No. 9, Araujo also has been used on the left wing. He’s also got a proven track record scoring in leagues seemingly on par with MLS, with 15 goals in the Greek Super League, 27 goals in the Spanish Segunda, five in Argentina’s top flight and seven more in La Liga.
If there’s a red flag, it’s that Araujo has had some off-field issues. Prior to his most recent loan to Athens, Araujo was found to be over the legal limit while driving less than a year after being sentenced to nine months in prison for refusing a breathalyzer test (although he claimed he wasn’t driving at the time and Spanish law allowed him not to serve that time).
Indications are that even if the Sounders put in a bid for Araujo that he was just one of several players the team is pursuing.