UPDATE (Dec. 16): The Sounders refuted a report claiming the transfer option had already been exercised and insisted that negotiations remain ongoing, but that they’re still interested in bringing back João Paulo and that he’d likely remain a Designated Player.
“Our intention is to try to bring jp back,” Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey said. I think he wants to come back. He had a very good first year. That will be determined based on negotiations. In my experience, when the player wants to stay, and the player wants to get it done, something gets done.
“I’m cautiously optimistic something will get worked out sooner than later, but nothing to report right now.”
UPDATE (Dec. 15): Reports out of Brazil say the Sounders have already exercised their $1.2 million purchase option and will give João Paulo a two-year contract extension. The loan was apparently scheduled to run out in November originally, but the Sounders were able to extend it.
Next year’s roster could end up looking a lot different after several key veterans showed up on the Seattle Sounders’ list of out-of-contract and Re-Entry Draft eligible players.
The most notable of those players was João Paulo, who was on a one-year loan with an option to buy. A Sounders spokesperson said the team is still hoping to bring back João Paulo.
That likely means the Sounders are looking to renegotiate their purchase option for him, as the deal was made prior to the pandemic and they may feel as though they are in position to get a better deal than what was originally reported to cost an additional $1.25 million to complete — which would have also triggered a two-year extension. Although João Paulo’s contract details were never released, it was believed that he was close enough to the TAM threshold that his loan fee may have been what pushed him into Designated Player territory. It’s entirely possible the Sounders hope to bring him back on a Targeted Allocation Money contract.
João Paulo was a solid contributor for most of the season, adding 2 goals and 5 assists in about 1,500 minutes and giving the Sounders a dynamic passer from the defensive midfield. He was, however, rather ineffective in MLS Cup and was pulled in the 60th minute.
Other notable veterans who are now out of contract or had their options declined are Gustav Svensson (out of contract), Kelvin Leerdam (out of contract), Joevin Jones (out of contract) and Román Torres (option declined). All four of those players started in the 2019 MLS Cup final. Only Jones started in last Saturday’s 3-0 loss, and he was roundly considered one of the Sounders’ worst performers. Torres and Jones are both eligible for free agency, while Leerdam and Svensson would need to go through various distribution drafts if they wish to stay in MLS.
“While it wasn’t the ending we were all hoping for, we had a good season despite all that the club was faced with. I’d like to thank our players for their hard work, as well as our staff for keeping everyone safe amidst a global health pandemic,” said General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey in a team release. “As always, we will strive to get better this offseason and come back stronger in 2021.”
Other players who are currently out of contract: Miguel Ibarra (option declined), Justin Dhillon (option declined), Emanuel Cecchini (out of contract), Stefan Cleveland (option declined), and Jimmy Medranda (out of contract).
The Sounders can still re-negotiate with these players.
Goalkeepers (2): Stefan Frei, Trey Muse
Defenders (7): Nouhou, Brad Smith, Xavier Arreaga, Yeimar Gomez Andrade, Shane O’Neill, Alex Roldan, Josh Atencio
Midfielders (7): Cristian Roldan, Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordy Delem, Danny Leyva, Shandon Hopeau, Ethan Dobbelaere
Forwards (3): Raul Ruidiaz, Will Bruin, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez