Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze When It Comes to DPs?
NEW ENGLAND, USA: The European transfer window came to a close at the end of last month, but not before some big names snuck in through it. Rumors were swirling in regards to some major contenders and mega stars. You kept hearing the names of Aguero, Suarez and Forlan. Although some of these rumors never came to fruition, there were some large deals to be had.
Unfortunately, the Revolution went in another direction than we had all anticipated and did not shell out the the £50 million to grab Fernando Torres.
All joking aside, I thought the deal was a little overpriced. Torres, a great player who is still relatively young (he turns 27 on March 20th,) has a history of muscle injuries which have plagued him during his tenure in the Premiership. Also, fitting him into the Chelsea lineup is like getting a square peg into a round hole. I guess you could argue that this may be Chelsea’s answer to the possible departure of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, the former having one year left and the latter only is under contract through the rest of this season, but I thought Liverpool’s transfers were much more efficient in both their cost and effort to inject youth into the club. Acquiring both Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez for a net of £1 million (their cost minus that of which they made off the sale of Ryan Babel and Fernando Torres) could result in the revitalization of Anfield. Even though the departing Liverpool players are still young, they had begun to stale for The Reds.
But, enough about Europe, we’re here to talk about the Revolution. These window periods always breed excitement for any soccer fan (even though the MLS window is still open until April 15 and teams will now have to wait until the Summer when other league’s transfer windows are also open.) We start to ask questions as to what our team could be potentially doing. The Revolution front office had announced in late January that there would be two international signings. This sent the fan community into abuzz:
“Who is it and where are they?”
“I hope it’s <insert foreign star name here>”
“Are we finally getting a DP?”
The latter was the most prevalent. New England had yet to sign a Designated Player (DP) since the rule’s inception. Big names have joined the ranks of New York Red Bulls, Los Angeles Galaxy and Chicago Fire, but no splash was ever had in Foxboro. (Learn about the DP rule here)
Although it made me excited, it also made me think: Is it really worth it? I pondered the value of the DP just as I had with the transfer of Torres. Obviously I would love a major soccer star to join the Revolution, but would I rather have a few good starters? Or establish a prominent youth system?
I did a little (yes, little) research and there have been two teams who have won the MLS title since the institution of the DP rule that actually had a DP on their team. The Columbus Crew in 2008 had Guillermo Barros Schelotto starting for them at forward. He had a good season with 7 goals and started for them in the finals, but he came with a paltry $375K price tag, much less than the millions that come with some of these more recent big name signings. Colorado had Claudio Lopez last season, but he had minimal impact and also came relatively cheap in comparison to other DP’s.
There is obviously tremendous revenue opportunity by bringing in a name that can fill the seats, but the wrong player at the wrong cost could set back a team in this league, look no further than Chicago Fire’s Nery Castillo who failed to have any real impact on his club or the league. Owners might be left with a bad taste in their mouth if they make the wrong decision in a sport that is not making remarkable profits.
This week multiple sources linked the Revs with French midfielder Ousmane Dabo. This would come on the heels of the signing of French defender Didier Domi. Yes, it appears the French have been called upon to save the Revolution again! Although he may not be worthy of a DP designation, Dabo is a veteran midfielder who can contribute to the team more ways than one. More can be learned about Dabo in this fine piece by SI’s Ben Lyttleton.
All in all, I believe the DP, unless there is a can’t miss superstar, may be best served at getting a solid veteran who can make a huge difference and bring a lot to the team and its younger players. Obviously getting someone for $375K might be a little too low, but overspending for someone who may not make the difference a club needs is not the best way to go about it. A midway point can be reached allowing salary flexibility while infusing some veteran leadership and foreign talent. MLS has signed over twenty designated players since the rule’s inception, do you think any of them have been worth the squeeze?
At least we don’t have Beckham…
Matt is the official blogger for “The Rebel Yell” the Official Rebellion blog. He is also a contributing writer for WorldSoccerReader.com.
You can harass Matt on Twitter @Matt_Martins