Toronto FC’s capture of Lorenzo Insigne will go down in Major League Soccer history, regardless of how he performs on the pitch.
Of course, everybody is expecting the Italy international, who won Euro 2020, to tear it up for TFC, perhaps leading a late-season surge to MLS Cup glory. Nothing is off the table.
But even though TFC don’t have to pay a transfer fee for Insigne – who will join the club once his deal with Napoli expires in July – the figures involved in the 30-year-old’s salary packet are absolutely eye-watering.
Here are the top five individual salaries in MLS taking Insigne into consideration:
*Salary figures are the guaranteed compensation players will receive as per the MLS Players Association’s latest update.
Toronto have moved mountains to get Insigne, and they may not be done yet with the likes of Andrea Belotti, Domenico Criscito, and Carlos Salcedo all linked.
But it’s not like they’re cheaping out on their roster already. DP playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo is the fourth-highest player currently in MLS with the Spaniard bringing home $4,693,000 per year.
Pozuelo struggled for fitness in 2021 but has generally been great value for his salary, making the MLS Best XI twice and even winning the MVP award in 2020.
Given their owner and glamorous surroundings, Inter Miami were always going to bring in a huge name to fill their striker role – Gonzalo Higuain certainly fits that bill having previously turned out for Real Madrid, Juventus, Napoli, Chelsea, and AC Milan. What a CV!
But unlike Pozuelo, Higuain has struggled to offer a serious return on his yearly salary of $5,793,750. The former Argentina international has 13 goals and eight assists in 39 appearances so far. That’s by no means a terrible return, but far below the levels expected of him.
That said, the Herons haven’t exactly set MLS on fire during their two years in the league yet, and there’s only so much Higuain can do on his own.
Chicharito is an absolute icon in North America thanks to his exploits in Europe with the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Bayer Leverkusen. Oh, and the small matter of being Mexico’s record goalscorer.
With all that in mind, his $6,000,000 salary seems somewhat justified in the context of the rest of this list.
His first year in MLS in 2020 was something of a disaster with just two goals in 12 games. But Chicharito dealt with some personal issues and came back last season with a point to prove, hitting the net 17 times in 21 appearances – only Ola Kamara and Valentin Castellanos (both 19) scored more.
If only his LA Galaxy teammates could match those performance levels…
The last two seasons have not been great for Carlos Vela, or LAFC on the whole for that matter. But the $6,300,000 per year man (currently the highest salary in MLS) was an absolute force of nature in 2019.
The Mexican forward scored no fewer than 34 goals in 31 regular-season appearances with another 13 assists for good measure, firing LAFC to the Supporters’ Shield with a record points total – a record that has since been broken by the New England Revolution.
No player has ever scored more goals in a single regular season, with Vela beating the previous record of 31 set by Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez just a year earlier.
Remember when we said Insigne’s salary was eye-watering? That’s because Toronto will be paying out $15,000,000 for the Italian forward’s services. For context, if Insigne was an MLS club on his own, he’d have ranked seventh in the league for salary spend. Truly staggering.
At that price, the powers that be in Toronto will be hoping and praying he delivers silverware and an endless highlights reel.
Of course, taking his pedigree and existing talent into consideration, prayers are probably not required.
Is it July yet?!