Two days into Seattle Sounders training camp, there are still a few notable absences. Cristian Roldan and Waylon Francis are with their respective national teams and will likely join the team some time after the United States plays Costa Rica on Feb. 2. Gustav Svensson is apparently scheduled to join the team some time this week, and will likely have a green card once he does.
That leaves Nouhou and Jordy Delem, who are both waiting for their visas to be approved. Sounders GM and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said he expected both players to be in training camp no later than next week, but possibly as early as this week.
“We’ll get all that stuff cleaned as we talk,” Lagerwey said, noting that Nouhou’s visa interview is scheduled for Thursday. “Sometimes those appointments take time to get set up.”
While visa issues may be keeping Nouhou out of camp, his absence hasn’t helped quiet rumors of a potential transfer. Rumors have been circulating for much of the offseason, ever since the Guardian named Nouhou as one of their top 10 transfer targets and suggesting his transfer might be worth close to $6 million. Since then, Stade Rennais has emerged as one potential suitor.
Nouhou, himself, has added some fuel to the speculation.
Hummmmm— Nouhou Tolo (@NouhouTolo) January 23, 2019
That tweet was made more interesting when MLSsoccer’s well-connected Sam Stejskal speculated that Nouhou “could still end up in France before the European window closes.” At the same time, Olympique Marseille has also now been linked to Nouhou, albeit by less reputable sources.
Info qui me vient d’une source de confiance : Zubizarreta aurait pris des informations sur la situation du latéral gauche des Seattle Sounders, Nouhou Tolo (21 ans) et Rudi Garcia apprécie son profil. Il fait partie de trois pistes de l’OM à ce poste, dont Dalbert. #TeamOM— Guillaume Tarpi (@GuillaumeTarpi) January 23, 2019
Nouhou seemed to add some weight to that rumor when he tweeted this:
allez l’OM je suis prêt à mouiller ce maillot— Nouhou Tolo (@NouhouTolo) January 23, 2019
Loosely translated, Nouhou seems to be saying “I’m reading to work hard for this [the Marseille] shirt.”
That is, of course, a far cry from any sort of official statement and probably should be taken with a hefty helping of salt. No one from the Sounders has given any indication — publicly or privately — that a transfer is anything like imminent. One way or another, this will likely all wrap up soon as France’s transfer window closes on Jan. 31.
In the meantime, the Sounders seem to be in a strong position. Nouhou is under contract and Brad Smith is here until at least August. If the Sounders can get a multi-million dollar transfer for Nouhou, they’d almost have to accept it and could then use that money to either retain Smith after his loan expires or bolster the position. If Nouhou returns, they’ve got one of the best defensive left backs in the league competing for minutes with a player who looks like he could be one of the best offensive left backs in MLS.