UPDATE: Al-Hilal is apparently the unnamed Saudi club pursuing Lodeiro. They’ve been Saui Arabia’s most successful club and have also historically been one of its highest-spending. They’ve made 15 transfers of at least $4 million, including two moves over the last year where they spent at least $8 million. They’re also rumored to be pursuing Carlos Vela. The Sounders have picked up Lodeiro’s 2021 option, meaning Al-Hilal would need to pay a transfer fee in order to sign him now.
With the non-guaranteed portion of Nicolas Lodeiro’s contract ending in December, there is an undisclosed Saudi Arabian league team alread targeting the Uruguayan midfielder and inquiring on his situation, Sounder at Heart has learned.
Lodeiro does have a club option for 2021 that Seattle will almost certainly exercise. However, that approach has led to several notable disputes and high-profile players like Lodeiro are often loathe to enter the final year of their contracts.
Lodeiro has been a cornerstone of the franchise since arriving in 2016, and is arguably the most productive signing in MLS history for his immediate impact and leading the Sounders to three league finals and two MLS Cups. If Seattle does not lock him into a contract before his option year, there’s a real chance Lodeiro takes a good look at what I’m told “would be a lucrative offer to say the least.”
At this point, the only thing I’ve been told is that an undisclosed contender in the Saudi Professional League has not only been scouting Lodeiro but has already started asking about the tenure of his current team and what it could take to acquire him. As far as the information I’ve gathered, there are no formal offers or conversation with Sounders.
That said, anytime a player of Lodeiro’s caliber is not given an early contract extension, there is a series of negative side effects that often come with it as they feel undervalued which could have a negative impact on his play, and in the worst-case scenario a refusal to play.
Lodeiro who has been a pillar for this franchise, is still just 31 years old, in wonderful shape and possessing a soccer IQ that suggests he has at least a few more years in his peak performance. Knowing how GM Garth Lagerwey operates, though, there will be some in-depth research before making any type of decision.
Nonetheless, knowing Saudi Arabia’s recent successes in acquiring MLS players, the Sounders should not take this lightly. Lodeiro is an essential player for the club and losing him could have a devastating effect on a club that has been as consistent and elite as they have been over the last five years.
We will be following this closely as it develops.