If the signing of former Barcelona defender Jordi Alba happens (and according to Inter Miami president Jorge Mas … it is), the Herons may struggle to bring on Luis Suarez.
According to The Evening Standard, Mas told TyC Sports Inter Miami is on the verge of bringing the 34-year-old Alba to South Florida.
But that presents a problem for Inter Miami who are also looking to add fellow Barcelona teammate Suarez to the roster.
It all comes down to math … kind of.
Let me explain.
Inter Miami Is Limited on Roster Spots
According to Major League Soccer rules, each team is allowed three Designated Players — those players whose salaries don’t count against the team’s annual budget.
In order to make room for Messi, the Herons parted ways with Rodolfo Pizzaro — who subsequently signed with AEK in Greece.
That leaves Gregore, Josef Martinez, Messi and now Sergio Busquets as designated players. Leonardo Campana is listed on the roster as a “young designated player.”
Well, that doesn’t work.
Now, Inter can buy down Gregore’s or Martinez’s contract and take them off the designated player list.
Well, Messi and Busquets will stay designated players to be sure.
The Herons could use targeted allocation money (TAM) to register Alba, but there is a problem there too.
Each MLS team has $2.72 million in TAM to supplement the $5.21 million salary budget per team.
However, Inter Miami is behind a bit of an 8-ball after sanctions against the club due to the registering of Blaise Matuidi and Andres Reyes levied in 2021.
Instead of $2.72 million, Inter Miami had $2.27 million deducted from its TAM spread out over two years.
It basically means Inter has limited options.
Maybe Alba, Maybe Not Suarez
As I mentioned in a previous piece, Suarez has stated he is committed to Brazilian club Gremio through 2024, despite rumors to the contrary.
On top of that, the former Barcelona and Liverpool forward is struggling with a nagging knee injury that could be exacerbated by the extended Brazilian season.
Mas suggested that as far as he knows, Suarez is under contract with Gremio and until he hears otherwise, that’s the story.
It’s much more likely that Inter Miami shoots the dice with Alba and perhaps passes on Suarez. Alba provides solid depth for the Herons — who are struggling on defense as it is.
It also gives Inter three very strong players — one in each spot on the pitch — that provide sound experience and still have playing years left.
Suarez may be somewhat more limited on that. His noted knee injury might be enough for the Herons to pass.
I think Alba is the better signing here if it comes to a choice.
Only looking to Alba and not both players also keep Inter Miami out of potential problems with the league on how much they are spending and how they are registering players.
Sources told ESPN that the only thing keeping Suarez from joining Inter Miami is his exit fee with Gremio.
Perhaps it is possible for all four players to join the squad, but it will take some creative accounting and player registration to make it happen.
A Little On Alba
Alba has spent the last 11 years in Barcelona, but elected to leave after this season with one year left on his contract.
Since 2008, Alba has played in 605 matches and notched 37 goals and 107 assists, according to Transfermarkt.
He’s also played in 93 matches for the Spanish national team and recorded 10 goals since 2011.
Over his career in Spain, Alba has won a European Championship with the national team in 2012.
Alba also has six La Liga titles, five Copa del Rey trophies, four Spanish Super Cup titles, a Champions League title in 2015, one UEFA SuperCup, a FIFA Club World Cup and one UEFA Nations League title.
Regardless of how the Suarez deal pans out, to get Messi, Busquets and (at least) Alba in one transfer season is a strong coup for the Herons. Adding Suarez wouldn’t be bad, but I’m not sure if it is a necessity.