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Inter Miami broke MLS rule in Matuidi deal, team buys out Pellegrini to get compliant

Michelle Kaufman
·3 min read

Major League Soccer announced on Friday that Inter Miami was “not in compliance” with the roster and budget rules during 2020, as midfielder Blaise Matuidi’s salary was above the compensation limit for a “Targeted Allocation Money (TAM)“ player, the roster category he was signed under when he joined from Italian power Juventus last summer.

He should have been classified as a higher-priced Designated Player. Each club is allowed three DPs and Miami, in essence, carried four -- Matuidi, Gonzalo Higuain, Rodolfo Pizarro and Matias Pellegrini.

In order to get roster compliant for 2021, Inter Miami bought out Pellegrini’s contract and loaned him to the club’s USL team, Fort Lauderdale CF. He cannot play games for the MLS team, but he can continue to train with them, as can the club’s other USL and academy players.

Pellegrini can be sold or loaned to a club in his native Argentina or anywhere in the world during the July transfer window.

“We’ve been working with Matias, his representatives and MLS to reach an agreement, and at this time we believe this is the best option for all parties,” said Chris Henderson, Inter Miami chief soccer officer/sporting director, who was not with the club last year when Matuidi was signed. “Matias is a talented young player with an exciting career ahead. He will remain with the organization as we work on finding an on-field opportunity and next steps for him.”

Pellegrini, 21, was one of Inter Miami’s first two signings in July 2019 when was signed for a reported $7 million transfer fee from Argentine club Estudiantes de La Plata. He played 20 games, started 12, had a goal and four assists.

Meanwhile, the league is finalizing its probe into the Matuidi contract.

According to an MLS statement: “The League has concluded that Inter Miami was not in compliance with the Roster and Budget Rules during 2020...Matuidi was categorized as a Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) player. Matuidi’s compensation was above the compensation limit for a TAM player and he should have been classified as a Designated Player. As a result, Inter Miami CF violated the Designated Player Limit as the Team had three Designated Players in addition to Matuidi during 2020.

“The League is finalizing the investigation and will be announcing the results of that investigation, including sanctions, in the near future.”

Guediri promoted to First Team

Defender Sami Guediri, a Boca Raton native, was signed through 2021, with options for 2022 and 2023. The 23-year-old left back spent last season with the club’s USL team, Fort Lauderdale CF, but was promoted after impressing coaches during preseason.

“Sami has had a strong preseason with us coming off of a good first year with Fort Lauderdale,” said Chris Henderson, Inter Miami chief soccer officer and sporting director. “His development has been impressive since moving from midfield to left back and we feel he has more room for growth with the first team.”

Guediri appeared in all 16 matches for Fort Lauderdale in 2020, starting in 14 of them. He previously played with USL team Greenville Triumph and with a few lower-tier clubs in Germany.