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.
Coming into the 2021 MLS season there are currently over 50 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 11 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!
11. Matías Pellegrini - $8.91 Million
Young Argentine midfielder Matías Pellegrini was bought for $8.9 million from Estudiantes de La Plata. Unfortunately for Pellegrini he was loaned out to USL side Fort Lauderdale CF after Inter Miami failed to comply with MLS roster mandates and correct number of Designated Players. Pellegrini played only 19 games and scored 1 goal.
10. Javier Hernández - $9.4 Million
Chicharito is MLS and the Los Angeles Galaxy’s ultimate prize catch, after a disastrous 2020, Javier Hernández came back full throttle and is currently the leagues leading scorer and without question the best player in the young 2021 season. He’s starting to justify that $9.4 million transfer fee.
9. Alan Pulido - $9.9 Million
Alan Pulido has been a rousing success for Sporting KC, at $9.9 million he has been worth every penny paid to Chivas. Pulido scored 10 goals in 19 games and looks for 2021 to be his breakout year in MLS and Kansas City.
8. 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.
7. 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.
6. 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.
5. Talles Magno - $12 Million
The 18- year-old Brazilian prodigy was recently purchased by NYCFC for $12 Million from Brazilian giants Vasco da Gama. Talles Magno played over 50 games for Vasco and represents Brazil at the youth level.
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.