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Major League Soccer: Explaining the Designated Player Rule

23 Aug 2019, 02:12 IST

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of three designated players at LA Galaxy
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of three designated players at LA Galaxy

In a day and age where clubs across the globe, Europe, in particular, have spent exorbitant sums on player wages and transfer fees, transfers in the MLS are subject to the Designated Players Rule.

The Designated Player rule has been in effect since the commencement of the 2007 season of Major League Soccer and it allows teams to sign players outside the predetermined salary cap.

By virtue of the salary cap rule, a predefined amount of money is set and the participating teams will not be allowed to spend more on player salaries.

Although the two rules go hand in hand, the Designated Player rule was implemented in 2007 and the salary cap rule was introduced in 1996 as part of the league's inception. However, the Designated Players rule was seen as a game-changer with regard to MLS transfers.

Three players can be signed outside of the salary cap, meaning all participating sides can either offer higher wages or pay a sizable transfer fee to acquire the services of a trio of star players.

David Beckham was the first player signed by virtue of the rule, when Los Angles Galaxy snapped up the former England captain for a guaranteed salary of $6.5 million and the rule has fondly been referred to as the Beckham rule ever since.

The rule allows teams to sign superstar players, like LA Galaxy famously did so with Beckham in 2007 and a whole host of high-profile have graced the league since. The current annual salary cap, which has been in place since 2017, is set at $3.85 million.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Wayne Rooney, Tim Howard, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jonathan dos Santos, Carlos Vela, and Nani are among the high-profile designated players plying their trade in the MLS currently and many more star-studded footballers from across the globe will inevitably grace the league in the future.

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