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Holes in the 'Designated Player' Rule

Has Major League Soccer's "designated player" strategy already gone bust? It may be harsh to say so just a month after David Beckham signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy, but Frank Dell'Apa of ESPN Soccernet says there are signs the plan isn't working.

For one thing he says, overtures made to players like Edgar Davids, Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane never panned out. Perhaps the reality that they wouldn't get anything close to Beckham's hefty compensation package eventually turned them off? Davids cost far more than FC Dallas was willing to pay, so he returned home to Ajax. Ronaldo found that he was still wanted by one of Europe's biggest clubs, so he made the switch to AC Milan. Zidane told Chicago he's staying retired.

But it's not just the league's failure to follow the Beckham signing with another; it's also the unrealistic expectations that deal raised, says Dell'Apa. Other MLS clubs are unlikely to have the funds to follow up that big announcement. Besides, as any coach would understand, it would be far more beneficial to take the $10 million a year a club would pay for a Beckham and buy five high-level players for $2 million each. "Unfortunately," says Dell'Apa, "the MLS formula is leading to mediocrity and stagnation."

Read the whole story at ESPN Soccernet »

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