If there were ever a perfect example of the differing economics of MLS and the Premier League, Brad Smith may be it. Despite just a handful of first-team appearances, the 24-year-old left back was apparently earning a salary in excess of $1 million while playing for a mid-table team in England. As a 22-year-old, Bournemouth was willing to pay a transfer fee reported to be in excess of $6 million.
In MLS, those are the type of numbers reserved for Designated Players.
Of course, he won’t be a DP for the Sounders. MLSsoccer.com’s Sam Stejskal was able to get some of the details of his loan, which Targeted Allocation Money helps make pretty reasonable.
New details on Sounders LB Brad Smith, who was acquired last week using TAM:— Sam Stejskal (@samstejskal) August 13, 2018
-Loan is through 7/31/19; Bournemouth w/ option to recall in Jan.
-SEA paying half of his salary; hits books just under $600k
-Purchase option is very high. SEA would need to negotiate fee down to buy
How that breaks down this year was not immediately obvious, but a little back-of-the-envelope math gives us an idea.
We know that TAM is spent like cash, i.e., it’s a pay-as-you-go system. The Sounders are likely on the hook for about five months of Smith’s salary this year, which would be about $250,000. Depending on exactly how his contract hits the salary cap this season, the Sounders are likely spending somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 in TAM if they are buying down his salary charge to the minimum cap hit.
Next year, Smith would be a little bit more expensive as Seattle would need to pay for seven months of his services. That would equate to roughly $350,000 in 2019. To pay him down to the prorated minimum of $87,500 next year, that would cost the Sounders an additional $262,500 in TAM.
Again using some educated guesses, the transfer fee Bournemouth wrote into the contract is probably close to what they paid Liverpool for him. The chances of the Sounders ever agreeing to pay anywhere close to $6 million for a left back are extraordinarily small, but it doesn’t seem that far-fetched for him to remain here a bit longer than next summer if Bournemouth doesn’t necessarily need him back immediately and there isn’t a better offer out there.
In addition to his transfer fee, it appears as though Smith is currently making about $1.2 million per year. Kelvin Leerdam makes less than half of that. Smith would almost certainly need to agree to a sizable salary reduction if he were to join the Sounders full time.
In any case, both GM Garth Lagerwey and head coach Brian Schmetzer have suggested they see Smith more as a bridge to give Nouhou a bit more time to develop. If we’re to take them at their word, they’re likely OK with allowing Smith to return to England next summer anyway.