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LA Galaxy and their looming DP issue

The Los Angeles Galaxy are over-the-limit. The club went to training camp this season with four designated players [DPs], one over the league limit. They must solve the problem prior to the March 1, 2019 roster compliance date. In December, LA signed star player Zlatan Ibrahimović to a league-record $7.2-million contract, putting him into the category of a DP.

2018 – 2019 MLS Player Salaries (As of September 15th, 2018)

NamePosBase Salary Total Compensation

Romain Alessandrini




Jonathan dos Santos




Giovani dos Santos




Zlatan Ibrahimovic*




*Ibrahimović has since
signed a new contract
and is now a DP.

Various options exist to solve this problem. One option the team has is to restructure the contract of one of its other three DPs to squeeze the contract under the league’s salary cap. Or it could take the financially painful path and give Giovani dos Santos the $6-million-plus he’s owed in the final year of his deal, then transfer him to another club.

The latter option did not receive a warm welcome with Gio’s brother, Jonathan dos Santos. “Gio queda,” said Jonathan, insisting in Spanish. “The team needs him. He’s a good player. Not all teams have a player with the quality of Giovani and we need him this year and he’s going to stay. No doubt.” New coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto wouldn’t say if he agreed with that. But he didn’t disagree either.

The rumour of a trade of Gio has been the most persistent offseason speculation, either via a transfer, with LA likely picking up part of his salary, or the club buying out his contract – or a transfer sending Romain Alessandrini to Montreal, but Barros Schelotto would prefer to keep all four.

What will happen? If the club cannot transfer Gio, then the next most-likely scenario would be for Alessandrini, dos Santos, or his brother Jonathan dos Santos – to take a restructured deal or for the Galaxy to use Targeted Allocation Money (“TAM”) to lessen his impact under the salary cap.

MLS rules allow teams to use TAM to convert a DP to a non-DP by buying down his contract at or below the maximum charge of $504,375

Barros Schelotto insists, “We don’t have any problem about the designated player. We are talking with the player about that, an no problem. I think maybe it can happen. I think we need to talk with him.” Who the manager means when he says “him” is not clear.

For his part, Alessandrini thinks he’s earned his DP stature: “If I have to choose, I stay there. I stay, like, as a DP,” the French winger said. “I don’t want to be too much confident, but we work I did the last two years, I think I have to stay like a DP. We’ll see what’s going to happen. “The club has to make a choice. Soccer is complicated sometimes, but it is what it is. We’ll see what [the club is] going to do, and we have to accept it.”

«Si je dois choisir, je reste là. Je reste comme un DP », a déclaré l’ailier français. «Je ne veux pas être trop confiant, mais nous travaillons comme je l’ai fait ces deux dernières années, je pense que je dois rester comme un DP. Nous verrons ce qui va se passer.

«Le club doit faire un choix. Le football est compliqué parfois, mais c’est ce que c’est. Nous verrons ce que le club va faire et nous devons l’accepter.»

Romain Alessandrini

Ibrahimovic says he hopes all three players will be on the Galaxy side this year “Hopefully, everybody gets satisfied and happy, and we can continue to work just like we’re doing.”

“Gio quiere quedarse aquí”, dijo Jonathan a periodistas en Los Ángeles en noviembre. “Sabe que este año fue complicado. Tuvo la desgracia y la mala suerte de no poder jugar muchos partidos”.

“Creo que Giovani tiene que estar aquí, es un gran jugador, es un jugador importante para nosotros”, dijo Jonathan. “Lo extrañé y todo el equipo lo extrañó mucho la temporada pasada. No dependería de esa decisión si el equipo ya no quiere a Giovani en el Galaxy, no creo que eso suceda”.

“Para mí, Giovani es un jugador que tiene que estar aquí. Tiene que ser el mejor jugador del equipo la próxima temporada y mostrar al gran jugador que es”.

Jonathan Dos Santos

Asked about the coming season, Barros Schelotto said, “I think we have a really good roster, but maybe we can get [additional players], more in defense. We are seeing our possibilities. We have important players like Ibra, Romain, both Dos Santos, so we will see what possibilities we have so that all our players have the freedom to feel comfortable on the field and give their best.”

By Ken Russo

While my background is in the legal industry, the skills acquired and fine-tuned in law practice are now applied to focus on the sport of football. Russo Soccer aims to inform, educate and engage on news and relevant issues in the game.

Um advogado por formação, concentro meu trabalho nos negócios, comunicações e operações de equipes no futebol mundial. | Abogado con fundación avanzada en comunicaciones, enfocado en los negocios del fútbol y las comunicaciones. | Je suis un avocat experimenté dans les affaires de football.

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