Sounders forward Obafemi Martins is set to join Shanghai Shenhua less than two weeks before Seattle opens the 2016 season in the CONCACAF Champions League, according to a BBC Sport report Sunday morning.

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Sounders forward Obafemi Martins is set to join Shanghai Shenhua less than two weeks before Seattle opens the 2016 season in the CONCACAF Champions League, according to a BBC Sport report Sunday morning.

Martins scored 40 goals in 72 MLS games, finishing second in the MLS Most Valuable Player voting in 2014. Seattle’s most consistent scorer since he joined in early 2013, the 31-year-old will join his ninth club if the deal goes through — though ESPN FC is reporting that the details are still being ironed out.

ESPN FC is also reporting that the transfer fee is not high enough to yield the Sounders allocation money in the deal, but Seattle will obtain clarity on its front line. With Clint Dempsey, Nelson Valdez and Jordan Morris also in the fold, even a planned move to a three-forward formation was going to make finding meaningful minutes for the attacking core a challenge.

Martins joins Colombia international Jackson Martinez, former Chelsea midfielder Ramires, Cameroon captain Stephen Mbia and former Roma attacker Gervinho as part of the Chinese Super League’s winter 2016 bumper crop of signings.

“I can tell you that Oba is not here with us in this phase of camp,” Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said Sunday from the team’s camp at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif. “We’ve had an approach from a Chinese club for his services. It could take a while to have that resolved. There’s nothing else we can really add at this point, and we hope to know more by the end of the week.

“I don’t think it has any impact on us,” Lagerwey said when asked about next Tuesday’s Champions League match against Club America. “We’ll go forward with this group. That’s who have been training. Those are the guys that are here. That’s the group that we’re going to rely upon. And that’s the group, by and large, that’s intact from last year that did pretty well at the end of last season. We’ll do what we need to do. We have contingency plans. If that third DP spot opens up, it gives us more flexibility and the ability to implement our long-term vision for this team. If it doesn’t, we’ll have Obafemi Martins back, and that’ll be a good thing, too.”

A few thoughts:

  • While not a disaster for the Sounders given the glut of resources up top, this is still a slightly stunning move — especially on the eve of a new season. Martins will go down as one of Seattle’s great goal scorers, the driving force behind the 2014 Supporters’ Shield run. His influence will be missed.
  • Pencil in Morris as the day-one starter on the wing. Though most comfortable as a center forward, the rookie out of Stanford has the young legs to pace up and down the wing that Dempsey and Valdez need to conserve at this point in their careers.
  • Might the Martins move shift Sigi Schmid’s commitment to the 4-3-3? The formation shift was pitched mostly as a way to fit as much attacking talent onto the field as possible. But Seattle’s coach has also spoken openly about the value of a potential rotation to keep legs fresh. With Martins now out of the fold, the Sounders might revert to their more-standard 4-4-2 more often than expected.
  • Perhaps the most surprising thing about Martins’ exit is how long his Seattle tenure lasted in the first place. He’s a player with the soccer version of wanderlust, a forward whose Sounders tenure will go down as his longest since leaving Inter Milan in 2006. Now he’s got a new dining room chair to add to his collection.