You can be forgiven if you're looking longingly across the ocean -- and through an entire continent I suppose -- at the season Fredy Montero is having with Sporting CP. The 26-year-old Colombian has already equaled his best Seattle Sounders goal total, bagging 13 goals in 14 Primeira Liga matches and establishing himself as the dominant offensive player in Portugal.
We've been reading for months that this was only a loan, while at the same time being told that Sporting had a reasonably ironclad option to buy if they chose to do so. We had also been told that the chances of the Sounders reaping any kind of allocation-money windfall was unlikely, with the possibility of Montero reaching certain escalators being the only likely salvation.
But what to make of all these reports that are now claiming Sporting has already completed the transfer, apparently paying somewhere north of $10 million to do so and that they've placed a massive buyout clause on him?
Frankly, I'm not sure. I've been bugging the Sounders about these rumors for seemingly weeks and they've never given any indication that this is anything to be excited about. Today, even, GM Adrian Hanauer gave me some on-the-record comments that, at the very least, suggested nothing is completed.
Taking everything that has been said both by Hanauer and in foreign reports at face value is not necessarily an easy exercise. At first glance, they would seem to be almost entirely contradictory. But Hanauer has been pretty consistent in his messaging to me and the reports seem to be in pretty wide agreement.
Might there be an alternate reading, though? Keeping in mind that this is complete speculation on my part, walk with me down fantasy lane for a moment:
Let's assume that what Hanauer said about the most likely route to allocation windfall being escalators in Montero's loan, that the original loan fee was not enough to trigger allocation money. That's easy enough to believe. Montero was coming off a somewhat disappointing stint in Colombia and the Sounders didn't have the flexibility to bring him back in July, which left him in a state of limbo. Sporting had the Sounders over a bit of a barrel, it would seem, and seem to have been able to work out a pretty friendly deal. The escalators aside, Sporting was apparently in position to simply extend the loan for a couple years.
But no one saw Montero's start coming, and maybe the situation changed enough that those escalators became almost irrelevant.
But assuming Sporting was in a position to simply keep Montero on the bottom-line friendly terms of the original loan, why would they suddenly trigger the transfer and be forced to make a lump-sum payment, money most people seem to think they don't really have? That's where this buyout clause comes in, and it could be an indication that they are lining up an even bigger move for Montero.
The way a transfer seems to make the most sense is if Sporting believes they can ultimately flip Montero elsewhere in Europe for a big payday of their own. I'm assuming that Sporting is going to want to keep its cake and eat it too, so maybe that move doesn't happen until they've secured their spot in Champions League. Maybe, they don't even officially trigger Montero's transfer from the Sounders until then. Maybe the option-to-buy really is the reported MLS-record of $16 million, meaning the Sounders would easily clear the estimated $4-$5 million they needed to in order to reap the full $650,000 in allocation money. Maybe the Sounders will have some serious money to play with, either this year or in upcoming seasons.
Or maybe this is all just transfer-rumor silliness. Maybe Sporting is simply trying to bask in some positive press by making it appear as if they've spent some big money to retain a player having a fabulous season and the Sounders are just bystanders.
Guess we'll just have to wait to see.