The first two players in Inter Miami history are up-and-coming 19-year-olds from Argentina -- Matias Pellegrini and Julian Carranza.
David Beckham’s Major League Soccer expansion club, which begins play in March 2020, announced the signing of Pellegrini late Friday afternoon. Fifteen minutes later, they announced the acquisition of Banfield forward Julian Carranza.
Pellegrini, an attacking left winger, plays for Argentine club Estudiantes and was in Miami on Monday meeting with Inter Miami officials and undergoing a physical exam. The two sides finalized his contract, reported by Argentine media to be worth $10 million. He agreed to join the team in January 2020 and will remain on loan with Estudiantes until then.
Pellegrini, who is 5-9 and 146 pounds., turned 19 in March and has been a standout in Argentina’s youth program. He has played for the U17 and U20 national teams, scored three goals and had one assist in 15 matches for Estudiantes this season, and played two games in the Copa Libertadores. He made his debut with Estudiantes in August 2018.
He will be classified as a “Young Designated Player” under the league’s complicated roster classification system. That means he can make more than the league-maximum salary of $530,000 and only $150,000 of his salary will count toward the club’s Salary Budget (cap) of $4.24 million.
MLS rosters can have up to 30 players, and up to 20 — referred to as the Senior Roster — count against the salary cap. Each team is allowed to acquire up to three Designated Players whose compensation and acquisition costs exceed the league maximum, with the club responsible for paying the difference. A DP who is at least 24 years old has the full $530,000 count against the cap.
Inter Miami officials have said they will have three DPs on the roster. Among the big names linked to the team are Radamel Falcao, Luis Suarez, James Rodriguez and Hector Moreno.
Carranza has not been classified yet. He is in his second season with Banfield and has scored 10 goals in 30 matches. He also trained with Argentina’s U17 team.
“It’s important for us that we found young, exciting attacking players that are on the upside of their career and have the potential to be really good players in this league,” said Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough. “We liked that Pellegrini can play inside and out wide, has very good aerobic capacity and can cover a lot of ground, while Julian is a very grounded player with impressive work rate. He’s the player that strives to score goals and is very good in the box.”
Inter Miami will continue to sign players in the coming months. McDonough said he hopes to have up to eight players signed by the end of September. Another batch is expected in December and early January. Training camp begins in mid-January 2020.
“We will continue to build and add quality players that are the right fit for our Club. We started with youth, but we know it’s also important to have veteran players who come from both overseas and within the league to balance out the roster over time.”
It should come as no surprise that McDonough looked to South America, and specifically Argentina, to find young talent. He helped build Atlanta United, and signed then-18-year-old Ezequiel Barco of Argentina to a $15 million deal. Other South Americans McDonough brought to Atlanta were Josef Martinez of Venezuela and Hector Villalba, an Argentine-born Paraguayan player.