By Alex Labidou
It could be an interesting summer for the Seattle Sounders. The fifth-year Major League Soccer club are aiming to win their first league trophy this season, and the team's front office has hinted that major moves, both incoming and outgoing, could take place as the summer European transfer window nears.Team general manager Adrian Hanauer has confirmed to Goal.com that the Sounders have indeed held preliminary conversations with Bayern Munich forward Ivica Olic and his representatives. However, Hanauer admits that any possible move for a high-profile player would be reliant on the sale of one of the team's two Designated Player stars, Fredy Montero or Alvaro Fernandez.
"We love Ivica. We think he's a fantastic player, hard working, prolific goal scorer. We think he'd be a very good MLS player," Hanauer told Goal.com. "Over the course of time, we have had conversations with his representatives but at this point we got our three DPs [Designated players]. At this point, it's not a current conversation."
Since the Sounders have backed away from the negotiating table, Olic has entered talks with Wolfsburg, with Bild reporting that the player and club have already agreed to a two-year contract. Olic, 32, has a deal with Bayern that will expire at season's end.
Hanauer also revealed that clubs from abroad have made formal bids and inquiries for Montero and Fernandez. As a result, Seattle have been in touch with players from around the world in the scenario that the team decides to let either player go. Hanauer stated that if a substantial bid came in, he would be open to selling either player during the regular season.
"I think it's impossible to say no [to a big offer]," he said.
A transfer of Mauro Rosales, the club's third DP, is less likely. The Argentine only signed his new Designated Player contract this offseason and, at 31, is significantly older than both Montero, 24, and Fernandez, 26.
But before any potential sales happen, Hanauer would want a replacement that could make the team better.
"Even if we're not currently in the market, we want to know who is out there. Soccer is a global game and a player that might be on our team now might not be during the summer. We have to be prepared when those situations arise," Hanauer explained.
He added, "We love having Alvaro and Freddy and I think they are a part of what makes us successful. We will be extremely choosy and protective of letting those players go without a plan for our franchise."
Another issue that Hanauer clarified was the DP status of Fernandez. The Uruguayan hasn't always earned above the DP threshold, but due to a transfer fee to bring him in from Nacional he counted as one. (His pay bump in 2011, up to $366,666.67 per Players Union documents, takes him above the $350,000 cap this year.)
Hanauer said that Fernandez will remain a DP for the duration of his contract. However, Hanauer hopes that in the future the league could change its stance on including transfer fees in the overall salary cap number.
"It is what it is," Hanauer said. "On a league level, we do have discussions about those types of issues. I think the rule to couple the transfer fee with salary on the cap was a good one when it was first established. But just like the Designated Player rule, over the past four or five years, it will evolve like our league has."