break it down
Sam Stejskal, MLS Writer: If you want a chance to figure this out, don’t think of what happened to Pellegrini as a traditional takeover. A traditional buyout involves an employer agreeing to a fee with an employee to terminate that employee’s contract. That’s not what happened here.
Pellegrini hasn’t been bought out — he was just bought out of Miami’s MLS salary budget, which exists in a spreadsheet at MLS headquarters somewhere above Manhattan. His current contract with MLS, which is a very real thing that entitles him to a very good salary, is still in effect. That means Pellegrini still gets paid and Miami still owns his contractual rights. But because he was bought out of Miami’s salary budget, he can’t stay on Miami’s MLS roster or play in MLS. Being bought on Miami’s salary budget also means Miami can’t trade or loan him elsewhere in MLS, hence the loan to the club’s USL affiliate in Fort Lauderdale, where, presumably, he will be allowed to play. matches.
As mentioned, Miami still owns its contractual rights. This allows the club to sell or loan him out of MLS at a later date, keeping the possibility of recovering at least part of the cost of his substantial transfer fee and salary. Considering Miami has invested at least $7 million in Pellegrini so far, that’s no small feat.
Bottom line: Miami now has three DPs and abides by MLS rules. The club are still paying Pellegrini and can still sell or loan him to a foreign club in the future. Pellegrini is eligible to play in USL League One for Fort Lauderdale. He is not a free agent and he is not allowed to play in MLS. He can stay on his contract and play his USL loan, strike a deal with Miami to terminate his deal entirely (unlikely, for the reasons outlined above) or stay in hopes of being sold or loaned to the USL. abroad at a later date.
Is there a precedent for this?
Stejskal: Yes. The closest analog to Pellegrini’s situation is what happened with Mix Diskerud and New York City FC before the 2017 season.
Unlike when Gio dos Santos was bought out by LA Galaxy and when Yura Movsisyan was bought out by Real Salt Lake in recent years, Diskerud, like Pellegrini, was not waived after being bought out. Putting a player who is bought out on waivers allows any other MLS club to add that player. Any interested club would have to submit a waiver request – essentially, how much of the player’s salary they would be willing to take on. The club willing to accept the most salary would be awarded the player and his contractual rights. The idea behind a club putting a redeemed player on waivers is to save money. If another team claims the player, that team is required to pay the player up to the number at which they claimed him. The player’s original team only pays the difference.
It was attractive to LA and RSL and the dos Santos and Movsisyan situations because there wasn’t much value in owning the rights to either player – neither was likely to be sold when redeemed.
This is not the case with Pellegrini. Even though Miami will have no hope of recouping the full fee it paid for him in 2019, there should still be a market for him when other transfer windows around the world open this summer. Retaining his rights could allow the club to collect a low seven-figure transfer fee at some point later this year. Putting him on waiver and allowing another team to claim him would have transferred his rights to that team, and Miami could not have sold him. They wouldn’t have been responsible for his full salary, but they wouldn’t have had a chance to move him for a fee.
What kind of punishment should we expect for Miami?
Stejskal: Losing Pellegrini hurts, but it was necessary to bring Miami into compliance for 2021. Keeping his rights dulls the pain, too. Loaning him out to Fort Lauderdale, however, does nothing to punish the team for illegally carrying four DPs down the straight in 2020.
The fact that Matuidi, Higuain and Miami struggled last season shouldn’t matter – the punishment for this infraction should be severe. I’d be surprised by a points deduction, but stripping the club of some of their general or targeted allocation money, an under-22 player slot, even a future DP spot seems to be in order. A fine would not suffice. Miami should feel hurt on the athletic side for that. It’s cheating – and in one of the most meaningful ways imaginable.
(Photo: Marco Bello/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)