The Seattle Sounders strengthened their options in the center of the pitch Friday afternoon by signing Brazilian midfielder João Paulo on a designated player contract.
João Paulo joins the Sounders from Brazilian club Botafogo, where he netted five goals in 68 appearances between 2017-20. Seattle is his first career stop outside his native country, where he has played professionally for the past 10 years and represented Internacional, Atletico Goianiense, Goias, and Santa Cruz.
“João is a tactically excellent player who solves problems on the pitch, while his passing and set-piece service will help us be even more goal dangerous,” Sounders vice president of soccer/sporting director Chris Henderson said in a club statement. “I had the opportunity to meet João in Brazil and witness first-hand his professionalism and character, which fit exactly what we stand for in Seattle. On top of that, he’s a former captain who brings experience and leadership to our squad.”
Because Seattle was using all three of its allotted designated player slots, the club had to use targeted allocation money to buy down a portion of defender Xavier Arreaga’s salary. Arreaga, who made $500,850 in guaranteed compensation, according to 2019 MLS Players Association figures, is no longer a designated player.
João Paulo, who will also occupy an international roster slot, joins Sounders midfielders Nicolas Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz as the team’s DPs. The Brazilian is also the Sounders’ 15th DP signing since their inaugural 2009 season.
The Brazilian’s career started in 2010 with Internacional, where he spent three seasons before a trio of loan stints with Atlético Goianiense (2013), Goiás (2014) and Santa Cruz (2015). He signed with Santa Cruz on a permanent basis in 2016.
João Paulo has made 17 appearances in the Copa Libertadores and has been involved in seven title-winning campaigns over the last 10 years.
“The coaching staff is always pleased to welcome talented players to our roster, and with João we are adding a versatile veteran with a track record of winning. Chris Henderson and the scouting department have done a great job of identifying talented players for our club,” Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “He gives us options in the midfield, as well as some more vertical passing options in the initial build up, so I’m looking forward to seeing how he fits in with the rest of the squad.”
Seattle opens the 2020 regular season March 1 when it hosts Chicago Fire FC.