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MLS CONFIDENTIAL: Holding on to Pablo
July 31st, 2006 5:24PM

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By Ridge Mahoney
Senior Editor, Soccer America

An attempt to acquire Colorado Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni has, at least for now, been quashed by MLS.

Italian Serie B club Brescia has inquired about taking Mastroeni on loan for the upcoming season, but Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo says the terms, as he understands them, are unacceptable.

''The deal, as it is now, makes no sense for anybody,'' said Clavijo Saturday prior to the Rapids' 4-1 loss to Dallas. ''Not for Pablo, not for the league, not for Colorado. We would never stand in a player's way if he had the opportunity to go somewhere, but Pablo, perhaps more than any other American player, was developed by the league.

''He has been in the league for nine years and has played in two World Cups. He's an important player for us and for the national team, so of course the league should get something if he leaves.''

Mastroeni, 29, has two option years left on his contract and would not count as a foreign player because he holds an Italian passport. He was born in Argentina but his grandparents are Italian.

The initial contact with MLS was not made directly by Brescia but through an intermediary. However, former U.S. international Christopher Sullivan has ties to the club through his business dealings with Roberto Baggio, who played for Brescia near the end of his career, and says the interest is legitimate.

''There's no doubt they like him and that he would do very well there,'' says Sullivan, who works as a TV commentator for Fox Soccer Channel and XM satellite radio. ''It would be a great move for him and for Brescia, because the club is trying to get back into Serie A and Pablo has all the qualities to play at that level.''

The league sold striker Jean Philippe Peguero to Danish club Broendby last week for approximately $700,000, according to a source. He was on an annual salary of $70,000; Mastroeni's current MLS deal is valued at $250,000 per year and because of his experience the league would certainly double or triple the value of his remaining contract (the rest of this season plus two option years), if Brescia was willing to pay a transfer fee. The club could suggest a loan with an option to buy if it is promoted but MLS has rarely acceded to loans with such stipulations attached.

Calls to MLS, the Rapids, and Clavijo Monday were not returned in time for publication of this story.



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