Puig joins LA Galaxy from Barcelona, ​​but rival MLS chiefs question deal

The MLS The secondary transfer window has closed much the same way it began: with a high-profile player arriving in Los Angeles amid questions about his fit within his new club’s salary budget.

A little over a month after the acquisition of LAFC Gareth BaleThe Los Angeles Galaxy Signed on Thursday by the Spanish midfielder Riqui Puigwho turns 23 next week, until the 2025 season with a free transfer from F.C.B. Like Bale, a fund allocation contract (TAM) has been signed. Like Bill too, this fact was a bit of a surprise.

According to various reports, Puig made $4 million last season with Barcelona, ​​and he is in the middle of the year strange financial crisis And he needs to offload players in order to score new deals. He had a guaranteed year left on his contract with the club, but coach Xavi told him this summer that he was not in his plans for the 2022-23 season. If Puig, who has been with Barcelona since the age of 14, wants to play, he has to find a new team.

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He’s got that with Galaxy, but he’s also taken a huge cut in his salary. Budget costs – salary plus agent fees, realizable bonuses and other payments – for TAM players are set at $1.6125 million in 2022. This number will increase each of the next few years, but only marginally.

Certain Players (DPs) do not have any maximum compensation limits. Each team gets only three, however, the Galaxy already has the maximum amount in their books in Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, whose contract expired after this season, Kevin Cabral And the Douglas Costa. Bale, whose contract is guaranteed only for 12 months, has an option in his deal that, if activated by LAFC, would make him a DP next summer. There is no such mechanism in Puig’s contract with Galaxy. It also does not include increases that would take his average annual salary above the DP threshold – if that happened, the club would not be able to consider him a TAM player for any part of his deal.

The bottom line: Over the course of his three-and-a-half-year contract, Puig would be able to earn no more than $5.88 million in total by LA.

Several other MLS clubs who have been granted anonymity to avoid conflict with the league have questioned Puig’s deal in talks with several game directors. the athlete Thursday. Nothing went further Philadelphia athletic director Ernest Tanner last month made taped comments to Kicker about the Bale deal for which MLS later fined him., but everyone wondered if Puig was a legit TAM player. They were all at a loss as to why the young talent who has made 57 appearances for one of the best teams in the world would cut her salary to MLS. One GM was so skeptical that, in the MLS equivalent of an elementary schoolboy threatening gossip, he vowed to ask their club owner to look into the deal. None of the GMs had any evidence that anything untoward was happening.

As detailed in the aftermath of the Bale acquisition, MLS checks all new signings to ensure they comply with the league’s roster rules. Teams are also required to provide a written testimony to the league that ensures that all compensation paid to an individual player is counted toward their official MLS contract. These same measures were undoubtedly followed as part of the Puig deal, which Galaxy made room in part by selling the midfielder. Ryan Ravelloson against French club AJ Auxerre earlier on Thursday.

There are plenty of plausible scenarios in which Puig might have come to Los Angeles under the TAM contract. We don’t know if he had any offers in Europe that would have paid him more than he gets from the Galaxy, for one thing. We also don’t know if Barcelona bought out part of his contract to help make him full over the next 12 months. We know Los Angeles is an attractive place to live for gamers, including those, like Puig, who are at the front end of their careers.

But the fact that dissenting executives are questioning the legality of a second high-profile signing in just over a month illustrates a major problem facing MLS. It’s been a little over a year since that came out Inter Miami hidden payments for Blaise Matuidi And four other players in the 2020 squad. Matuidi and defender Andres Reyes Both were announced as TAM contracts, but both should have been considered attacking players. That scandal, for which Miami was so punished, has created growing distrust among some club executives, who, rightly or wrongly, remain skeptical of deals like those of Bale and Puig. Except for a fundamental change in the rules, there seems to be little MLS will be able to do to combat these feelings.

There is, of course, a lot to discuss about this signature. Like any player who studied at La Masia, Puig is incredibly technical and skilled in possession. He never scored serious numbers in Barcelona, ​​but he should build on the attacking ability LA got from their central midfield this year. However, Puig doesn’t win much with the ball. By buying and selling Ravelloson, Galaxy is adding talent on the ball and sacrificing some defensive ability and athleticism. Los Angeles recently signed the veteran midfielder from Uruguay Gaston BrugmanHe played 33 matches last season while on loan from Italian club Parma to Spanish second division club Real Oviedo. Unless head coach Greg Fannie switches to a two-forward setup with Chicharito and emerging talents Diane JovelitchLook for him to play alongside Marc Delgado and behind Puig at 4-2-3-1 as Los Angeles looks to work its way past the season.

The addition of Bouygues could also affect how MLS is viewed globally. It was unheard of for a player who was recently considered one of the brightest young talents at a club like Barcelona to come to MLS; Players who leave Barcelona at his age often end up at mid-sized clubs in other major European leagues. If he succeeds in rehabilitating his career with Galaxy, is sold back to Europe (Barcelona is said to hold a buy-back clause and maintain the sale percentage) and become a contributor to a competitive team, it could help improve the outlook for MLS by players and executives across the board. around the world. This perception has major implications for the MLS transfer market, both in terms of the types of players the league can attract and how much they can sell to them.

(Photo: Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)