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How to assess the latest Nicolas Lodeiro transfer rumor

You’ll want to keep these facts in mind whenever a new Lodeiro transfer rumor pops up.

Doesn’t seem like a guy itching to move.
Kayla Mehring / Sounder at Heart

The thing about signing good players is that someone else always wants them. It’s not always fun, but in a weird way it’s probably a good sign that guys like Nicolas Lodeiro always seem to be involved in various rumors.

But just because there are rumors doesn’t mean he’s going anywhere. The key to keeping your sanity is knowledge. These are the main things to keep in mind:

Lodeiro is signed through 2021

Lodeiro just signed an extension that puts him under contract through the 2021 season. That doesn’t guarantee he’ll be around that long, but it does give the Sounders a ton of leverage in negotiating any deal.

The Sounders are built around Lodeiro

Go back and read all the research the Sounders did when identifying Lodeiro as a key target in 2016. They didn’t sign him on a whim, and every significant signing they’ve made since then has been with the understanding that Lodeiro is their engine. They will not be inclined to let him go for cheap.

No other team is built around Lodeiro

There’s surely a number at which the Sounders will feel compelled to let Lodeiro go, but I’m not sure how many teams are out there who’d be willing make it worth the Sounders’ while to allow the midfielder to leave. The reality is Lodeiro is probably more important to the Sounders than he would be to almost anyone else.

More broadly, as good as Lodeiro has been for the Sounders the past four seasons, I’m not sure his transfer value has risen that much. Lodeiro is now 30, after all, and even after his recent run of good form with Uruguay in the Copa America and in leading the Sounders to a second MLS Cup, he’s not really done anything on the international stage to increase his value. If the Sounders were the highest bidder in 2016 when they paid about $6 million, it’s hard to imagine anyone is suddenly willing to pay more than that now. It’s especially hard to imagine Boca — the team most consistently linked to Lodeiro — paying that now.

Lodeiro doesn’t seem like a malcontent

There’s always a wildcard in any transfer, and that’s the player himself. If Lodeiro really wants to go, he could theoretically just make life very difficult for the Sounders. This was, supposedly, how Obafemi Martins forced his way out of Seattle.

It’s absolutely true that whenever someone asks Lodeiro about returning to Boca Juniors that he says he wants to someday. But he also does it with a wink, a smile and a bit of a chuckle. He knows he’s remembered fondly there and surely feels a connection to those fans, but there’s nothing about Lodeiro’s past that suggests he’s anything but a model teammate. It’s just hard to imagine him forcing his way out, especially since much of why he came to Seattle — primarily to raise his family in the United States — hasn’t changed. This is extra relevant when considering interest in Lodeiro from Mexico — another common source of rumors.

OK, so what’s the latest?

Dec. 9, 2019: Lodeiro, as he tends to do, said some very positive things about someday returning to Boca Juniors. The latest example came from an interview he did with Uruguay outlet Ovacion in which he’s asked about returning to one of his former clubs — Nacional, Ajax or Boca. Lodeiro says he’d definitely choose Boca, but the context of the question as a hypothetical has been lost in some of the translations. Nothing he says suggests any move is imminent.

Nov. 18, 2019: Our friend Niko Moreno is reporting that Monterrey and Cruz Azul of Liga MX have both expressed interest in acquiring Lodeiro. These are two of the biggest and best teams in Mexico, so they at least have the financial resources to make a deal happen. Are either willing to offer enough in transfer fees and salary to make it happen? That is far less clear.

All of which is to say, I’ll remain skeptical of any Lodeiro rumor, at least until new information comes to light.

This story was updated on Dec. 9, 2019. It was originally published on Jan. 7, 2019.

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