When you have a chance as an organization to lock down a player like Joao Plata, you do it, right?
According to an Instagram post by Plata’s agent, Gonzalo Vargas, Plata signed a new contract at Real Salt Lake. RSL Communications confirmed a contract extension and salary increase.
He also says he’s an “jugador franquicia” — a “franchise player.”
There’s something surprising here — in December 2014, RSL purchased Plata’s contract from the multiple parties that owned him, and for a time, he was a Designated Player as a result, primarily because of the acquisition cost involved.
It was understood that RSL was dropping the Designated Player designation this season, and with this new contract, that hasn’t changed despite an increase in Plata’s salary, RSL Communications confirmed to us today. He had been one because his purchase cost had been amortized over at least part of his contract.
Further, expectation at the time was that Plata had signed to a new long-term contract — five years, meaning it would expire following the conclusion of the 2019 season. A new deal now suggests a number of things, but without further evidence, it’s really hard to say what. Was he pursued by another club? Was RSL merely locking down his long-term future? There’s not too much cause for speculation there if Plata continues to outperform his contract, as he did in the first half of 2016.
We’re not entirely clear what jugador franquicia means in an MLS context, but we do know he’s not a designated player. It’s possible the club has used targeted allocation money to ensure he remains under the DP salary level — but, again, we don’t know.