For Inter Miami and Messi: Someone has to go

As the Herons are set to introduce Lionel Messi to the squad, the team also has to decide who is leaving.
Inter Miami CF v Philadelphia Union
Inter Miami CF v Philadelphia Union / Ira L. Black - Corbis/GettyImages

On the verge of “The Unveil,” Inter Miami is set to sign the most widely recognized player in worldwide football.

The problem is that someone has to go to free up a Designated Player spot.

That’s because of Major League Soccer rules that only allow teams to have three Designated Players on the roster.

Let’s look at the Designated Player role and discover which international is likely on the way out for the Herons.

Thanks for the DP Rule, David

The Designated Player rule … which, coincidently is also known as the “Beckham Rule,” named for Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham … is pretty straightforward.

The rule was put in place by Major League Soccer to allow each team to carry no more than three players “whose total compensation and acquisition costs exceed the Maximum Salary Budget.”

Each team has a salary budget of $4.9 million and up to 20 players on the senior roster count against that cap.

The maximum charge for each of those players is $612,500 — meaning a player on the senior roster can make no more than that amount. In total, all 20 players’ costs can not add up and exceed $4.9 million per year.

A team’s supplemental roster includes reserves and homegrown players and don’t count against the total cap.

The idea is that all teams are on an equal playing field (not like the Premier League where teams can spend so long as they have the money to spend).

It keeps spending down so MLS teams don’t exceed their income and they stay solvent.

Then you have the Designated Players.

Each team can have up to three DPs on the roster and their salaries can exceed the league maximum. Those salaries do not count against the $4.9 million annual cap.

There’s more to it than that, but that’s the nuts and bolts.

Inter Miami Is Full of Designated Players

The current roster for the Herons shows the team has met its Designated Player cap:

Josef Martinez, Gregore and Rodolfo Pizarro are listed as the DPs presently.

In order to make room for Lionel Messi — who needs to be a DP for salary sake — one of those three needs to come off the DP list and either move to another team or change their designation on the team — which isn’t likely considering salary expectations.

According to Transfermarkt’s Manual Veth, Pizarro is the player on the way out.

He reportedly has agreed to terminate his contract by mutual consent and leave the squad as a free agent.

This means Pizarro can sign with any team for no transfer fee outside of MLS.

According to HITC:

"“Pizarro’s contract situation was one of the main sticking points for Inter Miami after announcing Messi’s capture. Yet Tata Martino’s side have now seemingly come to an agreement with the 29-year-old and his future at the club, with an announcement expected soon."

Dylan Walsh, HITC

To go a step further, Veth reported the Mexican international will sign with Greek side AEK once he is free of his contract with the Herons.

Since joining Inter, Pizarro has made 62 appearances and scored seven goals with 10 assists — far below his production in Liga MX with Pachuca, Monterrey and Deportivo Guadalajara.

If the Herons need to make a DP move — and to get Messi, they do — then Pizarro is the best candidate to move on from the team.

Martinez is starting to show flashes of what brought him to the club in the first place and Gregore has been strong, aside from his foot injury, and provides nice defensive support.

The fact remains that Pizarro has not been able to reclaim the form he had when he won two Concacaf Champions League titles and two Mexican Clausura titles.