Top 10 Biggest MLS Contracts – The Impact of Global Talent MLS

Andrew Kovacs

As Major League Soccer (MLS) continues to grow and gain prominence on the global soccer stage, the league has seen a significant influx of top-tier talent from around the world. 

The signing of marquee players has not only elevated the level of competition but also brought considerable attention and excitement to MLS. 

In this blog post, we will delve into the top 10 biggest MLS contracts, and the league as a whole. From Italian stars to American stalwarts, these players have shaped the evolution of MLS and its ambitions to become a premier soccer league in North America.

Top 10 Biggest MLS Contracts

These top 10 biggest MLS contracts are a reflection of the league’s continuous growth and ambition to attract world-class talent from all corners of the globe.

1. Lorenzo Insigne (Toronto FC)

  • Contract Sign: June 2022
  • Contract Length: 4 Years
  • Contract Price: $7.5 million

Lorenzo Insigne (Toronto FC)

Source: torontofc

Lorenzo Insigne, the highly skilled Italian winger, made waves in the football world when he signed a high-profile transfer deal from Napoli to join Toronto FC in Major League Soccer (MLS). 

Known for his mesmerizing dribbling abilities, explosive pace, and lethal left foot, Insigne’s arrival injected a sense of excitement and anticipation into Toronto FC and the MLS community as a whole. 

His signing was a clear statement of the league’s growing appeal and its ability to attract top-tier talent from prominent European leagues.

2. Xherdan Shaqiri (FC Basel)

  • Contract Sign: 2022
  • Contract Length: 8 Years
  • Contract Price: 13 Million

Xherdan Shaqiri (FC Basel)

Source: sportmob

Xherdan Shaqiri, the Swiss international winger, caused a surprise when he made a surprise move from Liverpool, a club competing in the English Premier League, to join FC Basel in MLS. 

The signing of Shaqiri further underscored the increasing global allure of MLS among renowned football stars. 

His previous successful stints in top European leagues made him a valuable asset for FC Basel, and the club ensured his services with a substantial and noteworthy contract, making him one of the league’s marquee players.

3. Gonzalo Higuain (Inter Miami CF)

  • Contract Sign: 2020
  • Contract Length: 3 Years
  • Contract Price: $7 million per year

Gonzalo Higuain (Inter Miami CF)

Source: cbssports

Gonzalo Higuain, the prolific Argentine striker, made a high-profile switch from Italian giants Juventus to join Inter Miami CF in MLS. As one of the most recognizable names in world football, Higuain’s arrival was a significant coup for both Inter Miami CF and the league. 

His goal-scoring prowess and wealth of experience made him one of the highest-paid players in MLS, signaling the ambition of Inter Miami CF to make a strong impact on the league and compete at the highest level.

4. Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)

  • Contract Sign: 2015
  • Contract Length: 3 Year
  • Contract Price: $5 million per year

Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC)

Source: sportsnet

Jozy Altidore, the talented American forward, has been an integral part of Toronto FC’s success since his arrival at the club. Renowned for his physicality, goal-scoring prowess, and leadership qualities, Altidore’s contract exemplifies the value he brings to the team both on and off the pitch. 

He has been instrumental in guiding Toronto FC to multiple playoff runs and even helped the club clinch the prestigious MLS Cup, solidifying his status as one of the top players in the league.

5. Alejandro Pozuelo (Toronto FC)

  • Contract Sign: 2020
  • Contract Length: 3 Years
  • Contract Price: $4.69 million

Alejandro Pozuelo (Toronto FC)

Source: cbc

Alejandro Pozuelo, the Spanish maestro, has proven to be a revelation for Toronto FC since joining the team. His exceptional creativity, precise passing, and ability to score crucial goals have elevated him to one of the league’s standout midfielders. 

Toronto FC acted swiftly to secure his long-term services with a significant contract extension, recognizing the immense impact he has on the team’s style of play and their aspirations for continued success.

6. Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC)

  • Contract Sign: 2022
  • Contract Length: 4 Years
  • Contract Price: $4,050,000 last year

Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC)

Source: goal

Carlos Vela, the immensely talented Mexican forward, has often been hailed as one of the most gifted players in MLS. His extraordinary technical abilities, goal-scoring prowess, and playmaking skills have propelled Los Angeles FC to new heights. 

His contract reflects his status as one of the highest-paid players in the league, highlighting his importance to the club’s ambitions of becoming a powerhouse in MLS.

7. Josef Martinez (Atlanta United FC)

  • Contract Sign: 2019
  • Contract Length: 5 Years
  • Contract Price: $4,141,667 on last year

Josef Martinez (Atlanta United FC)

Source: dirtysouthsoccer

Josef Martinez, the electrifying Venezuelan striker, has been a goal-scoring sensation for Atlanta United FC. His incredible goal-scoring record and captivating performances on the pitch earned him a lucrative contract extension, cementing his status as one of the most valuable players in the league. 

Unfortunately, an injury setback has temporarily sidelined Martinez, but his contract remains a testament to his immense impact on Atlanta United FC’s success.

8. Raul Ruidiaz (Seattle Sounders FC)

  • Contract Sign: 2019
  • Contract Length: 4 Years
  • Contract Price: $2,472,000 on last years

Raul Ruidiaz (Seattle Sounders FC)

Source: soundersfc

Raul Ruidiaz, the clinical Peruvian forward, has been a pivotal player for Seattle Sounders FC since his arrival in 2018. Known for his lethal finishing and ability to score crucial goals, Ruidiaz’s contract reflects the team’s acknowledgment of his value and their aspiration to build a successful team around his talents. 

His performances have played a crucial role in Seattle Sounders FC’s consistent competitiveness in MLS.

9. Nani (Orlando City SC)

  • Contract Sign:
  • Contract Length:
  • Contract Price:  $2,333,333 per year

Nani (Orlando City SC)

Source: goal

Nani, the Portuguese wing wizard, joined Orlando City SC in 2019 and quickly captured the hearts of fans with his technical brilliance, leadership qualities, and wealth of experience. 

His contract underscores his importance to the team and the club’s ambition to compete at the highest level in MLS. Nani’s performances have been a catalyst for Orlando City SC’s progress, and his impact on the field has been significant.

10. Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)

  • Contract Sign: 2019
  • Contract Length: 3 Years
  • Contract Price: $1.5 million per season

Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)

Source: torontofc

Michael Bradley, the esteemed American midfielder and captain of Toronto FC, has been a stalwart for the team since his return to MLS in 2014. Renowned for his leadership, precise passing, and defensive acumen, Bradley’s contract serves as a testament to his influential role both on and off the field. 

His contributions have been pivotal in guiding Toronto FC to success, and he continues to be a revered figure in the league.

As MLS continues to evolve, these high-profile signings play a crucial role in elevating the level of competition and entertainment for fans, further solidifying MLS’s position as a prominent and competitive soccer league.

Factors that Impact MLS Contracts

MLS contracts are influenced by a variety of factors that play a significant role in determining the terms and conditions of player agreements. 

These factors can vary based on individual player attributes, market conditions, club ambitions, and other external considerations. Some of the key factors that impact MLS contracts include:

Player Performance and Skill Level

The primary factor influencing MLS contracts is the player’s performance and skill level. High-performing players with exceptional talent, goal-scoring ability, and leadership qualities are likely to command higher salaries and more lucrative contract offers.

Market Value and Demand

The market value of a player is a crucial consideration in contract negotiations. Players with high market demand due to their reputation, international status, and marketability can negotiate more favorable terms, including higher salaries and potential bonuses.

International Reputation

Players with established international reputations or experience in top-tier leagues can attract significant interest from MLS clubs. The prestige and visibility associated with such players often lead to more substantial contracts.

Transfer Fees and Acquisitions

In some cases, clubs pay substantial transfer fees to acquire players from other teams or leagues. These fees can impact the overall cost of a player’s contract, and clubs may need to account for this investment in contract negotiations.

Salary Cap and Designated Player Rule

MLS has a salary cap system in place to ensure financial stability across clubs. However, the Designated Player (DP) rule allows clubs to sign up to three players whose salaries exceed the cap limit. DP contracts often involve marquee players who are crucial to a team’s success.

Length of Contract

The duration of the contract also plays a role in negotiations. Longer-term contracts offer players stability and clubs the chance to secure a player’s services for an extended period. Shorter-term contracts may provide more flexibility for players to negotiate new deals based on performance.

Homegrown Player Status

MLS clubs can sign Homegrown Players, who are developed in their youth academies, to relatively more cost-effective contracts. These contracts take into account a player’s development within the club and offer opportunities for young talent to grow.

Player Age

The age of a player can also be a determining factor in contract negotiations. Young, promising players may be offered longer-term contracts with a focus on potential development, while older players may receive shorter-term contracts with a focus on immediate impact.

Performance Incentives

Performance-based incentives, such as appearance bonuses, goal bonuses, or team success bonuses, are often included in contracts to reward players for their on-field contributions and achievements.

Financial Health of the Club

A club’s financial health and budget constraints can impact the offers they make to players. Clubs with greater financial resources may be more willing to invest in higher-profile players, while others may need to be more conservative in their contract offers.


Who is Lorenzo Insigne, and what makes his contract with Toronto FC significant?

Lorenzo Insigne is an Italian winger known for his skillful dribbling, pace, and lethal left foot. His high-profile transfer from Napoli to Toronto FC garnered attention worldwide. 

His contract with Toronto FC is one of the biggest in MLS history, signifying the club’s ambition to strengthen their squad with world-class talent.

Why did Xherdan Shaqiri’s move to FC Basel from Liverpool surprise many?

Xherdan Shaqiri’s move from Liverpool, a club competing in the English Premier League, to join FC Basel in MLS demonstrated the growing allure of the league among global football stars. 

Despite his successful career in top European leagues, Shaqiri’s decision to join MLS showcased the league’s increasing appeal and competitiveness.

How did Gonzalo Higuain’s signing impact Inter Miami CF and MLS?

Gonzalo Higuain, the Argentine striker, made a high-profile move from Juventus to join Inter Miami CF, making a significant statement for the club and the league. 

His goal-scoring prowess and experience as one of the most recognizable names in world football made him one of the highest-paid players in MLS, elevating the league’s status.

What makes Michael Bradley’s contract extension with Toronto FC noteworthy?

Michael Bradley, the American midfielder and Toronto FC captain, has been an essential figure for the team since his return to MLS in 2014. 

His leadership, precise passing, and defensive abilities have made him one of the league’s most influential players, making his contract extension a testament to his impact both on and off the field.

How have these top 10 biggest MLS contracts contributed to the league’s growth?

The signing of high-profile players from around the world has elevated the level of competition and brought increased attention to MLS. 

These players have not only boosted the quality of the game on the pitch but also enhanced the league’s reputation, attracting more fans and sponsors, and furthering MLS’s ambition to become a prominent soccer league.

End Call

The top 10 biggest MLS contracts showcase the league’s ability to attract top talent from different corners of the globe. 

These signings have played a crucial role in elevating the standard of play, drawing international attention, and fueling the growth of MLS as a prominent soccer league in North America. 

As MLS continues to evolve, these high-profile players will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the league’s legacy and contribute to its continuous progress and success. Thank you for your support. 

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Andrew Kovacs

I am a Head Boys Soccer Coach at Amherst Regional Public Schools in Massachusetts. I have coached for the past five years and I am currently working on my master's degree in Exercise Science. I coach soccer because I love the game and I enjoy being around the kids. It is rewarding to see them develop their skills and grow as individuals. LinkedIn