MLS has always been a spending league, the league at various points in its history has spent the big bucks to bring in players that can elevate their teams. In the last decade, with the designated player rule, teams have gone out into the market and have signed many high-profile talents for high transfer fees. Since the rule came into effect some teams have hit and missed on player signings. The Chicago Fire for example have had a total of 18 DPs in their history! The Los Angeles Galaxy for have had 13 DPs which have included Landon Donovan, David Beckham, and Zlatan Ibrahimović. The country to have provided the most DP’s to MLS is Argentina with 41, followed by the United States at 21, Mexico has provided 13 DP’s to very mixed reviews.
Coming into the 2021 MLS season there are currently 57 DP’s in the league, two of the latest additions hail from South America, Austin FC’s Cecilio Domínguez from Paraguay, and FC Cincinnati forward Brenner from Brazil. Brenner is one the highest incoming transfers in league history at $13 million.
In this article we will examine who are the top 10 highest incoming transfers in MLS history, this list will seem pretty recent, but that is because just as MLS is selling players at a high value, the league's teams are buying them as well. Here are the top incoming MLS transfers in league history!
10. Matías Pellegrini - $8.91 Million
Young Argentine midfielder Matías Pellegrini was bought for $8.9 million from Estudiantes de La Plata. Pellegrini without question is a long-term project for Inter Miami, he only played 15 games for Estudiantes and suffered growing pains in his first year in MLS. Pellegrini played 19 games and scored 1 goal so far in his MLS career.
9. Javier Hernández - $9.4 Million
Chicharito is MLS and the Los Angeles Galaxy’s ultimate prize catch, but the $9.4 million transfer fee paid for him at this point can’t be justified. Javier Hernández only scored 2 goals in 12 games in 2020 and was arguably one of the worst players on the field for LA. 2021 could be sink or swim for the Mexican international.
8. Alan Pulido - $9.9 Million
Alan Pulido on the other hand was a rousing success for Sporting KC, at $9.9 million he has been worth every penny paid to Chivas. Pulido scored 6 goals in 12 games and looks for 2021 to be his breakout year in MLS and Kansas City.
7. Brian Fernández - $9.9 Million
When the Portland Timbers bought Brian Fernández from Necaxa at $9.9 million they wanted goals, they got goals, but also a world of problems. On the field Fernández scored 11 goals in 19 games, off the field, unfortunately the player suffers from a long-standing drug problem. The Timbers terminated the contract and afterward when Brian Fernández returned to Argentina he went missing for 24 hours while playing for Colon de Santa Fe and even received death threats from his own father.
6. Alejandro Pozuelo - $9.9 Million
Alejandro Pozuelo arrived at Toronto FC from Genk at $9.9 million and he has been an MVP caliber signing since. With 21 goals in 53 games the Spanish international has been an MLS MVP in 2020 as well as an MLS All-Star, and two-time MLS best eleven.
5. Brian Rodríguez - $11.5 Million
The Uruguayan international Brian Rodríguez was brought for a record $11.5 million from Peñarol to LAFC. Rodríguez showed flashes of brilliance but did not take the league by storm, scoring only 2 goals in 26 games. He did turn into a good setup man for Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi. Rodríguez’s desire to move to Europe forced a loan to Almería, although it’s unlikely he will stay there in the long term as LAFC want at least $20 million for Brian Rodríguez.
4. Rodolfo Pizarro - $12 Million
Mexican international Rodolfo Pizarro was brought from Monterrey for $12 million. His time at Inter Miami started off slow but Pizarro found his footing and scored 4 goals in 19 games. Pizarro looks for 2021 to be a breakout year for the club and himself, as one of MLS most expensive signings, he will need to produce more.
3. Brenner - $13 Million
Sao Paulo youngster Brenner made an unlikely move to FC Cincinnati and MLS at $13 million. The young forward has already played for the Brazilian U-17’s and scored 13 goals in 32 games for the Brazilian giants, his move comes as a message that FC Cincinnati is ready to make the playoffs in MLS.
2. Ezequiel Barco - $13.5 Million
The former Independiente midfielder, Ezequiel Barco, was a huge splash signing by Atlanta United back in 2018. Barco’s MLS time has been rather incomplete, his ability and scoring power has come in spurts, he has 10 goals in 56 games. It’s Barco’s maturity that comes under question, he had personal issues with a teammate’s girlfriend during the Tata Martino era, under Frank de Boer all of Atlanta was a mess, now it’s up to Gabriel Heinze to finally get the best out of Barco.
1.Gonzalo "El Pity" Martínez - $15.95 Million
The league's most expensive signing is Gonzalo "El Pity" Martínez, signed by River Plate at $15 million, the former South American player of the year was a major disappointment. Often too hot and cold to properly lead Atlanta United, in only 1 and a half season an unexpected offer from Saudi team Al-Nassr and he was sold, and Pity became one of the most expensive outgoing and incoming transfers in MLS history.