The surge in spending by teams in the Chinese Super League could be about to affect Major League Soccer, with Seattle Sounders forward Obafemi Martins now a target, according to multiple ESPN FC sources.
One source with knowledge of the negotiations emphasized that the situation involving Martins is fluid, but that the Nigerian has attracted interest from multiple Chinese clubs. The source added that Martins is by no means the only MLS player to be pursued by teams in China, though declined to elaborate further.
CSL teams must adhere to a limit of five foreigners, with one of those five coming from Asia. At present, just four of the 16 clubs in China's top flight have an available foreigner slot, but with the CSL transfer window not set to close until Feb. 26, there is still plenty of time for teams to work out a deal to make room for another foreign signing.
The CSL has made news this month due to the vast sums of money that are being spent. The league's transfer record was broken three times in a 10-day span with Brazilian midfielder Ramires moving from Chelsea to Jiangsu Suning for $28.5 million on Jan. 27, Colombian striker Jackson Martinez moving from Atletico Madrid to Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao for $47.2 million on Feb. 3, and Alex Teixeira moving from Shaktar Donetsk to Jiangsu Suning for $56 million two days later.
Martins, 31, joined the Sounders just after the start of the 2013 season, arriving from La Liga side Levante. Since then he has scored 40 goals and added 23 assists in 80 league and playoff appearances, and was named to the MLS Best XI in 2014.
Martins has also played for Reggiana, Inter Milan, Newcastle United, Vfl Wolfsburg, and Rubin Kazan and had a loan spell at Birmingham City.
At international level, Martins has scored 18 goals in 41 games for Nigeria, and was a part of the Super Eagles' squad at the 2010 World Cup. He has also played for Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006, 2008, and 2010.