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Originally published Monday, March 11, 2013 at 5:41 PM

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Sounders are close to deal with star forward Obafemi Martins

Obafemi Martins looks set to join Sounders FC after his contract with Spain's Levante UD was bought out Monday — a move reportedly worth almost $4 million.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Obafemi Martins isn't a Sounder yet. But he's close.

The star forward, who has publicly been on Seattle's radar for a couple of weeks, looks set to arrive soon after the termination clause in his contract with Spain's Levante UD — reportedly worth nearly $4 million — was paid by Martins on Monday.

All that remains after the buyout, it seems, is a formal signing announcement, although Martins pre-empted that on his Twitter account:

"... I can now announce that I have just signed for Sounders FC..A big step to take in my career.

"I look forward to this new era in my career... I also look forward to meet my new teammates and the Sounders FC fans, my new family."

Martins, a Nigerian international, later back-tracked and noted there are still details to be worked out, but his Twitter profile still reads: "Sounders FC."

Seattle general manager Adrian Hanauer, also a part owner, said Monday the team has nothing to announce — not yet, at least.

"We'll obviously announce something if and when it comes to fruition," Hanauer said, "but as I've said from the beginning, Oba is a player that we've been circling the wagons on, and there seem to be a number of indicators that suggest he might be playing for Seattle at some point in the near future."

Sounders ownership changed its philosophy in the offseason and said that the team would be willing to spend more on designated players.

Signing Martins would deliver on that promise. It would also satisfy a major need at forward, where Seattle could use help following two shutout losses and the seasonlong loan of Fredy Montero to Colombian club Millonarios.

Roster space for Martins was opened up when the Sounders bought out DP midfielder Christian Tiffert's contract on March 2.

Coach Sigi Schmid said Monday that DPs come with high expectations, but that Martins (a veteran of top leagues in England, Germany, Italy and Spain) has the pedigree to deliver. Martins has seven goals in 18 league games with Levante this season.

"He's a player who's been able to score goals in some of the toughest leagues in the world," Schmid said. "So now if he can bring that talent here — he's fast, he's left-footed, he's got some explosion to him — I think the crowd will enjoy him."

Note

• A June 8 home game against Vancouver will kick off at 7:30 p.m. (instead of 1 p.m. as originally scheduled) to avoid conflict with a Mariners home game against the New York Yankees. Kickoff for a July 20 home game against Colorado has moved up to 1 p.m. (previously 8 p.m.).

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com.

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