As Sounders rebuild, Ljundberg's tenure might be in doubt

Jul 13 2010 - 9:47pm

TUKWILA, Wash. -- No one is safe, maybe not even Freddie Ljungberg.

With Sounders FC eager to bring in replacements when the MLS transfer window opens Thursday, so too is the team prepared to let players go.

"We're not actively renegotiating deals until we know we've got it right," said general manager Adrian Hanauer.

While not singling anyone out, that approach could leave the future of Ljungberg, the team's star midfielder, in doubt. The contract of the 33-year-old, who signed as a designated player with Seattle in October 2008, ends after this season.

When asked if Ljungberg's tenure with the Sounders was on the downtick, Hanauer said: "I would say it's a little more tenuous than it was a year ago."

"This is a big transfer window, especially for European teams. And this doesn't necessarily only apply to Ljungberg. With Fredy Montero, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani, we have a bunch of young talented players, and there's going to be interest, especially as clubs over there are preparing for their upcoming season."

Ljungberg, who missed Sunday's tie with Dallas with an ankle injury, was noncommittal about his future with the Sounders after resuming full training Monday at the Starfire Sports Complex.

"We'll see what happens," he said. "It's the transfer window, and my contract is up here in November."

Thursday is the start of a monthlong period when MLS teams can sign international players. Seattle, a playoff team in its inaugural season and considered one of the MLS favorites in 2010, is struggling at 4-8-4 and in next-to-last place in the Western Conference.

Ljungberg went on to say he loves living in Seattle, particularly due to the welcoming fans that have embraced him "with open arms."

With a base salary of $1.3 million, Ljungberg makes more than four times as much as any of his teammates. And whether the team's highest-paid player is on his way out or not, the Sounders will add another international star this week when Blaise Nkufo joins the team in Washington D.C.

Hanauer said the Swiss striker will almost certainly join the team as another designated player, meaning only a portion of his salary will count against the salary cap, but said that decision will be made once Nkufo is officially added to the roster.

The team is also open to signing a third designated-player according to Hanauer, who was scouting players at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

"Obviously we have some cap and roster-size challenges," he said, "but certainly that is plausible."

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