One of the longest transfer sagas in Seattle Sounders history officially ended on Wednesday when the team formally announced the signing of Argentine winger Pedro de la Vega. The 22-year-old will occupy a Young Designated Player spot this year after coming in on what has been reported as a club-record $7.5 million transfer fee. He is signed through 2027 with a club option for 2028.
"We are very excited to welcome Pedro to our team and can’t wait to get to work with him in preseason camp,” said Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “He’s a dangerous player with a creative skillset in the final third. As a coaching staff, we look forward to seeing how he can elevate our attack.”
Despite the hefty price tag, MLS rules dictate that de la Vega will only count $200,000 against the salary cap in 2024 while also allowing them to use two additional U22 roster spots. One of those spots is expected to be filled by Josh Atencio, who recently signed a contract extension.
Reports about the Sounders’ pursuit of de la Vega have been circulating for at least six weeks, but those only came after negotiations had reached an “advanced” stage. The Sounders had originally hoped to have de la Vega’s signing announced by mid-December but negotiations stretched on, presumably as the two sides haggled over the finer details and some competing bids started to emerge.
Although the Sounders privately expressed a relatively high degree of confidence that the deal would get done, GM Craig Waibel did seem to be applying a bit of pressure at the end-of-season press conference when he revealed that there were actually two other players also being considered for the spot.
In the end, the Sounders appear to have agreed to pay a slightly higher transfer fee than some of the initial reports suggested, while Lanús agreed to a lower percentage (20) of any future sales.
More importantly, the Sounders were able to secure the signature of a player they’ve been scouting for several years. When de la Vega first got on their radar as a promising teenager, he was possibly considered a bit out of their price range. Shortly after de la Vega broke into the first team at Lanús as a 17-year-old he was valued at over $10 million and was reportedly attracting interest from some of the bigger clubs in Europe.
But after tearing his ACL in early 2022 and missing a full season, most of that European interest evaporated. That allowed the Sounders to swoop back into the picture after de la Vega showed signs of recovery during a solid 2023 in which he had six goals and seven assists in about 3,200 minutes across all competitions.
The Sounders will likely expect de la Vega to hit the ground running. The winger has played across the attacking band, but seems most comfortable out wide, where he’s particularly fond of dribbling at defenders and creating danger with his right foot. De la Vega also has a reputation for being a willing defender and grades out as well above-average in a host of defensive metrics.