Matuidi first, James next? Beckham's big statement signing shows Inter Miami is new MLS superclub

Matuidi Beckham Inter Miami
The World Cup-winning midfielder will not occupy a Designated Player slot, showing the pulling power of the first-year club

When reports began to emerge that Inter Miami was closing in on Blaise Matuidi, the signing was somehow met with equal amounts of excitement and disappointment.

On one hand, this is a World Cup winner, a proven winner that has been a key player for two of the biggest clubs in the world, in Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

On the other hand, though, Matuidi doesn't quite have the same pulling power as an Edinson Cavani, David Silva, Willian, James Rodriguez or Luis Suarez – superstars that Inter Miami has been linked with in recent months as it looks to emerge as North America's next superclub.

Article continues below

Yet, as details of the deal have emerged, Miami's superclub status has been officially confirmed by Matuidi's signing, which was announced on Thursday. A transfer once seen as solid but slightly underwhelming is now being viewed as a masterclass, one which few clubs in this part of the world would be able to pull off.

Matuidi will instantly make Miami a more competitive team on the field, while improving the perception of the club and league off it.

Yet, the most incredible part of this deal isn't that Miami signed Matuidi.

What makes this deal truly special is the fact that Matuidi will reportedly not be counted as a Designated Player, with the midfielder instead signing a deal using Targeted Allocation Money.

With that distinction, Matuidi will certainly be taking a massive paycut as he will earn, at most, $1.5 million (£1.1m) a season but, with that distinction, the Frenchman's move could pave the way for something even bigger down the line. His salary could jump up down the line, helping him cross that DP threshold, but, at least for now, the club has the ability to bring in another big star.

As things stand, Inter Miami have two Designated Players: Mexican star Rodolfo Pizarro and Argentinian up-and-comer Matias Pellegrini. For months, it was rumored that the club's third and final DP spot would be used on an attacking player, either a game-changing winner or a pure goalscorer to lead the attack.

Understandably, many assumed that Matuidi's signing would make him Miami's third and final DP because few players leave a regular role with Juventus without the promise of more money to be made elsewhere.

Blaise Matuidi France World Cup 2018

Given the Frenchman was not the high-profile name that the fans were expecting, they felt unsurprisingly underwhelmed by the imminent arrival of an ageing midfielder.

Now, though, the signing is being viewed in a whole new light. Miami have not only acquired an experienced player to anchor their entire team but also somehow still have enough money left over to go out and make another big splash in the transfer market.

It's the type of salary-cap play that few teams in MLS can pull off, mostly because few clubs across the league could convince a player of this caliber to sign under these circumstances.

The LA Galaxy have managed this tricky balancing act several times, signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a measly $1.5m (£1.1m) salary for his first year with the knowledge that the club would backload his second season. They were also to bring in the likes of Nigel de Jong and Ashley Cole on relatively low salaries as a result of their MLS status and, more importantly, their location.

Still, most clubs aren't able to sell stars on promises like that, not in a world where European clubs still have so much power in the transfer market. You don't see players sacrificing money to move to many teams some are seduced by the idea of living in Los Angeles or Miami.

Matuidi was also likely sold on the club's ambition and his role within their plans, as he will now be a building block for the foreseeable future for a team who is still writing its early history. And, let's be honest, who wouldn't want to play for David Beckham?

He is largely hands-off when it comes to most of the club's transfer dealings but it's difficult not to suspect that his mere presence at Inter Miami played a pivotal role here, given Matuidi previously lined out alongside the Englishman at PSG.

Inter Miami's difficult start to life in MLS is highly-publicized, with the club losing each of its first five games by a single goal. Throughout the run, the expansion side hasn't looked bad, but they certainly haven't quite looked good. This is a team that is still a few pieces away, and there are few better pieces that could have been added that Matuidi.

The team's midfield, featuring Wil Trapp and Victor Ulloa, has been entirely ineffective as Diego Alonso's side has been calling out for a player that can step in and run a midfield. Matuidi is that player. He's been running midfield for years. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic David Beckham Blaise Matuidi Inter Miami Paris Saint-Germain

Having Matuidi in the midfield will make Trapp or Ulloa, whoever is alongside him, better. Matuidi's presence and creativity will free up Pizarro, Pellegrini, Robbie Robinson and Julian Carranza, making them better too.

And, when that third and final DP does come in, Miami will finally be built like the team Beckham has promised since the former Manchester United star was given an expansion franchise.

And, if Matuidi's signing is any indication, there's reason to believe that Miami is still thinking big.

Cavani may be off the table, as he's reportedly heading for Benfica. Silva is likely off the table as well, likely bound for Lazio. The same can be said for Willian, who looks set for Arsenal.

But, until that third DP spot is filled, Miami will be linked with every big name on the transfer market, including James, who is surplus to requirements at Real Madrid.

Such a coup may seem unlikely at this point but the club's transfer market acumen should no longer be underestimated after the Matuidi deal.

It's a big move made by a team that is still operating under the belief that it is destined to be a factor on a global scale.

Miami wants to be a superclub. The nature of this Matuidi deal proves they're going the right way about achieving that ambitious goal.