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RUMOR: Marcelo to the Rapids?

Are the Rapids on the cusp of another blockbuster signing?

Go to the MLS Shop for Rapids kits. You'll find this.
Go to the MLS Shop for Rapids kits. You'll find this.

If I told you the Colorado Rapids were making a play for Marcelo, you would certainly respond with: ‘Sarvas? But we already had him. That's done, rabbi.'

If I told you the Rapids were making a play for THIS Marcelo...

Marcelo Viera. Real Madrid's starting left back. The one that wakes up and goes to practice everyday with Tony Kroos, and Cristiano Renaldo, and Karim Benzema, and James Rodriguez. That Marcelo.

You would say: ‘Rabbi, you've lost yo' damn mind. That's, like, never going to happen.

So then I'd respond with this:



Hmm. Indeed. What IS Marcelo's name doing on a list of pre-orderable Rapids kits you can buy online at the MLS Store? Is this a glitch? Is it a typo? Is it a deep trolling from someone inside MLS?

Is it ... stay with me, people ... conceivable that the Rapids could add one of the finest fullbacks on the planet?




It's pretty inconceivable. He's still really, really good. He plays for one of the best teams in Europe. He's not over-the-hill and ready for the "retirement league" of MLS*, since he's only turning 28. He'd certainly be expensive. There are a dozen reasons why there's no way Marcelo is coming to the Colorado Rapids.

But hell. Let's go down that rabbit hole a little.

There are a few reasons why the Rapids might; MIGHT; be going for Marcelo. First, they might have the dough; and they might have been angling to free that dough up for a big signing for the past three months.

The Rapids have their three DP spots locked up. Shkëlzen Gashi, Kevin Doyle, and Tim Howard are our DPs. But the Rapids still have TAM - targeted allocation money. They began the 2016 season with $900,000 in TAM.

The Rapids also acquired undisclosed TAM in a trade with San Jose on February 29th in exchange for general allocation money (GAM), and more TAM for Marcelo Sarvas on February 1st, and even more TAM on January 18th for Clint Irwin.**

The Rapids currently have only 26 of their 28 roster spots filled. And they have 7 international players. MLS rules allow for 8 internationals (these spots are tradable.) So, they have the space.

So let's just say the Rapids have $1.5 million in TAM. Add that to the cost over the maximum roster fee for a ‘regular' player of $460,000, and now you can ask the question.

Can the Rapids get Marcelo from Real Madrid for a salary $2 million?

Leave aside the question of transfer fees. First, it's incredibly Byzantine to understand how MLS navigates this. From what I've seen, the league and the team front that money together, and the team takes on some of that as a hit to their GAM. And the league and the team get a split of that money coming back if a player is flipped to, say, China. But honestly, it's befuddling to me. And as far as I know, the current transfer fee rules aren't public. Share if you know more.

So, still, Marcelo for $2 million a year?

This website, which I can't verify in any way it's reliability***, has him at £80,000 a week.

That's $6 million a year. So, no, we can't get Marcelo. Unless we swap him in as a DP, and move Kevin Doyle to a regular max contract, paid down by TAM. Doyle currently earns $1.2 million.

So is that kind of salary possible? If the transfer fee isn't ludicrous? And the team wants to go really big? That salary is not impossible.

Does Real Madrid want to sell Marcelo?

Perhaps. Real Madrid is on to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions league, and Marcelo is a key player on the squad now. But Rob Hughes made a compelling argument in the New York Times that Marcelo is hurting, rather than helping, Los Blancos in their top-tier games.

It's also no secret that Real has under-performed expectation this year: they sit 3rd in the table of La Liga, and they fired manager Rafa Benitez a few months ago. Real Madrid consider any season without winning a double a failure. Being second-best in Spain to Barcelona is not an option. Being third? Entirely unacceptable. (Man, I wonder what being disappointed with third feels like? I'd be thrilled with sixth!)This team is likely to undergo a serious revamp in the offseason. Who knows whether Marcelo is part of the plan going forward?

Would he want to come to Colorado?

That's a pretty big question mark. Last year at this time, I'd say ‘oh hell no.' Back when we were a small market, homegrown player, low budget squad that had just signed their second ever DP, this team did not seem like a place ‘winners' and ‘superstars' would come to. But today? The Rapids can call up any GM in the world and say ‘We've got three top International players. The US league is exploding. Our city is among the fastest growing in the US. It's beautiful here. Why not Colorado?'

I think this is really unlikely. But I said the same thing about Jermaine Jones two months ago, and last night he was decked out in burgundy on Broadway and 11th, in downtown Denver.

It is inconceivable. Totally ridiculous. Could just be a glitch. A longshot. An early April Fool's gag. Or our Colorado Rapids might be - again - about to shock MLS with a surprise signing. They certainly have set that reputation for themselves this season.

* -> I don't at all think MLS is a ‘retirement league'. Except when I look at Lampard and Pirlo. Other Euro players are simply getting the best paydays for themselves while raising the level of the league and giving themselves a new life experience. But this is fodder for a whole nother article.

** -> They also swapped some TAM to LA for the 12th pick in the SuperDraft, later traded away to Chicago.

*** -> I struggle to trust any website with links to pictures of ‘Hottest WAGs!' on the sidebar. There are becoming fewer and fewer publications I can trust these days. Someday, I expect to open a Bible and see ‘This one cool trick for losing weight!' on the side.