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Sounders make two big signings at transfer deadline

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Brazilian attacker Leó Chú is joined by Frenchman Nicolas Benezet.

FBL-SUDAMERICANA-ARAGUA-GREMIO Photo by MANAURE QUINTERO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

They left it a little late, but the Seattle Sounders made a big splash on the final day of the summer transfer window. In addition to landing a long-sought U22 Initiative player by signing Léo Chú from Gremio, they also acquired Frenchman Nicolas Benezet in a trade with the Colorado Rapids. Together, the Sounders have bolstered their veteran depth while raising their ceiling with a 21-year-old attacker who already has nearly 40 professional appearances in Brazil.

“We are pleased to add two quality players in Léo and Nicolas before the end of the secondary transfer window,” Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said in a team statement. “Both are dynamic attackers that strengthen our roster as we begin the home stretch of the 2021 season.”

Chú is undeniably the more intriguing of the two signings. The Sounders had been open about their desire to sign a young attacking player who could potentially contribute now but who also has the potential to develop further. By all appearances, Chú fits the bill perfectly.

While on loan to Brazilian top-flight club Cerea last year, Chú contributed 3 goals and 6 assists in about 1,400 minutes. Back with Gremio this year, he’s not played nearly as much but has still managed to compile 3 goals and 3 assists in less than 700 minutes spread across various competitions. The Sounders paid a transfer fee of about $2.5 million and signed Chú to a four-year contract that includes an additional option year.

“His speed and versatility make him an intriguing option for our club, and like any young player, we are looking forward to integrating him into the organization and giving him the tools to succeed,” Lagerwey said about Chú.

To acquire Benezet from the Rapids, the Sounders gave up $50,000 in General Allocation Money with the potential to pay $50,000 more if he re-signs with the Sounders in 2022. The Rapids will also cover all but $150,000 of Benezet’s cap hit for the remainder of the season. Benezet spent the last two seasons with the Rapids after coming to MLS with Toronto FC in 2019. Benezet is signed through 2021 with a club option for 2022.

“[Benezet] knows what it takes to compete in this league, and he is effective at playing multiple positions across the midfield,” Sounders Senior Vice President of Soccer Operations & Sporting Director Craig Waibel said in a statement. “Whether on the wing or a more central attacking role, we like that he gives Brian [Schmetzer] and our assistant coaches options at various spots.”