The latest salary figures came out from the players union and Federico Higuain's salary is the big news, well the salary is not quite big, but it's certainly news. The Crew's Designated Player makes a base salary of $160,000 and has a guaranteed figure of $324,000.
Higuain's base salary is less than Tim Cahill, the New York Red Bulls summer import ($3.5 million), late Fire signing Guillermo Franco ($174,000), Houston's Rico Clark ($260,000), Darren O'Dea of Toronto FC ($330,000), Rapids pickup Hendry Thomas ($187,800), Juan Toja of the Revs ($180,000) or Galaxy winger Christian Wilhelmsson ($168,000).
Higuain's base salary is low. One way to do that is to buy down his salary number with allocation money. This will take money off of the Crew's cap charge, the non-public number that MLS sets, but it has changed base salary numbers as Guillermo Barros Schelotto's salary the first year he was in Columbus was a very low $150,000. That number jumped to $250,000, again reportedly bought down by allocation money. His contract options pushed his salary over $600,000 in 2009. Expect Higuain's salary to rise significantly in 2013.
Comparing guaranteed compensation changes the equation quite a bit. His $324k figure surpasses all but Cahill and O'Dea. The Players Union and the league aren't entirely clear what goes into that figure but the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (2004-2010) enumerates what comprises Guaranteed Compensation. These include:
- base salaries
- signing bonuses
- performance bonuses paid to players based on their individual performance;
- termination pay, including any payments agreed upon between MLS and a Player and made in connection with the termination of his employment agreement;
- automobile allowances
- housing allowances
- loyalty bonuses
- draft bonuses
- agents fees
- marketing payments
Here is where the picture for Higuain's higher compensation number is clearer. He likely received a considerable signing bonus to join the Crew. Columbus also paid a significant transfer fee of $650,000 to get Higuain from Colon, this number isn't included in his guaranteed compensation figure, however his cut may be. A player is due 10% of his fee, that would come out to $65,000 for this transfer. The agent fees to get the deal done would also push that number higher.
The other key to look towards in 2013 is performance bonuses. His guaranteed number likely will shoot up as he earns bonuses for goals, assists, and individual recognition. His base salary will likely reflect his DP status on the 2013 report.
Mark McCullers called Higuain the highest-paid player in club history in July. His initial salary doesn't bear that out, but with the rise in compensation likely next year, a guaranteed contract until 2014, and the large transfer fee paid, he's going to out earn every other Crew player before him.