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Coffee with the Caps, Monday January 10

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MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Toronto FC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope you all are well rested for the week ahead. We appreciate you getting things underway here with us.

While the Caps have been in a bit of an offseason lull, that is not true of every team in the league. By now you have almost certainly heard about Toronto FC’s capture of Lorenzo Insigne, the Napoli center forward, on a pre-contract.

Insigne will be 31-years-old when he joins Toronto FC this summer and he will be paid handsomely for his endeavors, with a $11 million per year salary after taxes reported, a deal which makes him far and away the highest paid player in the league’s history.

The move has been much ballyhooed and has been declared as a real statement of intent for Bob Bradley’s side, who fell on hard times this past year. This is undeniably true — Insigne is still playing at a high level in Seria A and has been a key cog for the Napoli side historically, putting him in another class when compared with another Italian superstar for Toronto FC, Sebastian Giovinco.

Despite the hefty cost, this will probably be a boon for Toronto FC in terms of marketing and selling tickets to the city’s sizable Italian community. But will it have a positive impact on the pitch? That is a much trickier question.

I have no doubt that Insigne will provide quality on the pitch, at least in the first several years of his contract. But this is a four-year-deal (with an option for another half-year) meaning Insigne will be pushing 36 by the time he wraps up his time in Toronto.

Obviously players that old can contribute. But I question the wisdom of paying someone $11 million a year to do so.

In part this is a reflection of the league’s roster rules, which privilege spending that much on one player, rather than spreading it out over an entire roster which, let’s be honest, would be a better strategy for a Toronto FC team that still has a lot of holes.

Make no mistake, Insigne will play at a top level. He may well be the best player in the league. And this will undoubtedly put Toronto FC on people’s radars internationally.

But teams in MLS have consistently showed that there are many ways to effectively build a team. Heck, Inter Miami proved pretty emphatically that the “throw unlimited money at a few older superstars” strategy is not what it used to be. Insigne is on another level than Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi but he can’t play all 11 positions on the pitch, after all.

Credit to Toronto FC for making a statement here. It would be great if all owners had the deep pockets of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (or, for the ones that do, if they actually spent the same way). The league would certainly be in a different place if this happened.

The level of risk in the Insigne deal is higher than what I think a lot of people are considering and it will either work out impeccably or be a massive disaster. I’ll be interested to watch from afar as to what it is. Meanwhile, the Caps have shown they will spend when appropriate — just not $11 million on one player. And that’s ultimately okay.

Shameless Self Promotion

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