Paul Tenorio reported on a very interesting story in The Athletic on Tuesday. Apparently, MLS has rejected a number of Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) deals around the league, and among the players named in the report, Los Angeles Football Club defender Walker Zimmerman was a player whose proposed TAM deal by his club was rejected by the league office.
The context, as Tenorio lays out in the story (it’s behind a paywall, but it’s a very good read), is that MLS want to ensure TAM deals are for the few players just below Designated Player level on team rosters, not dispersed among all players, and they grew concerned that MLS teams were trying to “game” the system by raising salaries to TAM levels so that they could pay them off with TAM money. Basically, they’re reportedly afraid of teams artificially raising salaries and it having a domino effect around the league. However, the impact is that some domestic players are feeling the squeeze as they aren’t being deemed worthy of TAM deals.
The result is that Zimmerman’s future with LAFC is possibly in doubt, as Tenorio reports that he’s out of contract at the end of this season and is eligible to sign a pre-contract with a foreign club beginning with the upcoming transfer window, which opens on July 10.
On one hand, it may not mean much in a practical manner, if Zimmerman is happy with LAFC and the team is happy to sign him to a new contract. He has, however, tried to play abroad in the past, as he went on trial after the 2015 season in Norway and Sweden after his first contract with FC Dallas ended. For whatever reason, he ended up coming back to FC Dallas, signing a new contract for the 2016 season. Could he try to go abroad again?
Considering LAFC brought in Zimmerman as their first big MLS-experienced addition to their expansion roster, and he’s started out well for the team, one has to think they want to lock him up and keep him around beyond this season. But due to league input, per Tenorio’s reporting, there is some risk Zimmerman may leave at the end of the season, and that is certainly concerning. Stay tuned.
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