Marco Di Vaio has reached that stage in his career..
At the end of this year, the 38 year-old striker's contract with the Montreal Impact will be up and there are rumours swirling around Stade Saputo that the recent arrival of the creative Argentinian midfielder, Ignacio Piatti, has re-ignited Marco's soccer muse and that he plans to return to the MLS squad for another year.
Which then begs the simple question: should the #IMFC even consider bringing him back for another year?
Before I offer my thoughts on this soon to be touchy subject, let me lay out some obvious Pros & Cons to consider first...
- Di Vaio Can Score - Those 38 year-old legs might not have the same lateral spring as many Springs & Summers before and 'offside Di Vaio' is an often heard commentary during MLS games BUT if he gets the ball on his feet in or near a scoring opportunity, it won't become a wasted opportunity too often.
With the team scraping the bottom of the MLS standings this year, Di Vaio's numbers have been noticeably off from last season's magnificent 20 goal campaign and a good case can be made that age has finally caught up with the Italian striker. But it can also be easily argued that an entire season playing alongside Piatti will see those numbers climb significantly.
- Piatti & Di Vaio - The tandem of Piatti & Di Vaio has the potential to be one of the most dangerous and exciting combos that the MLS has ever seen. With their super high soccer IQ's they can create and execute some genuine magic on the pitch and make the MLS and in turn Montreal a more popular destination for other future DPs to consider.
- Di Vaio's Wisdom - The type of soccer experience and knowledge that Marco Di Vaio possesses can't be taught in a life-time's worth of soccer academies. Another year for the young players to harness some true soccer wisdom from the legend himself before he departs on his life's next journey, surely can't be a bad thing.
.. and now for the other side of that proverbial coin...
- Di Vaio's Age - They say that age is only a number and on July 15 next year that number will be 39. Nagging injuries have caused Di Vaio to miss significant game action this year and it's hard to imagine that another year's worth of wear and tear on that body will improve that situation.
- Di Vaio's Salary - Marco Di Vaio's guaranteed salary for this year was somewhere in the neighbourhood of $2.6 million. The MLS salary cap is around $3.1 million per team + 2 DPs (any salary team wants to pay) + 1 young DP (to sign & develop a young player and then keep him from the deep, tempting pockets of European poachers)
Before Piattis' arrival, the IMFC were paying Di Vaio close to 50% of the teams total player payroll.
Joey Saputo likes to remind everyone that it's his money on the line but when a player like Justin Mapp is making 10% the salary of Di Vaio, you have a recipe for internal imbalance which often spills out on to the field and manifests itself in fired coaches and crappy results.
- Di Vaio's Impact - If Marco DiVaio returns for another year, his spot on the roster and his playing time on the field will create a domino effect that might have a lasting negative impact on the Impact for years to come...
Since Piatti's arrival, Jack McInerney (the young striker that has tallied 9 goals this year for the #IMFC in limited playing time) has become an afterthought for Frank Klopas.
If that trend continues, and it most certainly will if Di Vaio returns, the chances increase that at the end of next year BOTH Di Vaio & McInerney will be gone with zero assets coming back in return.
For a team that is dead last in the MLS, losing players for nothing, seems like the opposite path to want to follow.
Which brings up the case of Igancio Piatti's future in Montreal.
Whispers of Piatti using the #IMFC as a stepping stone to a more desirable MLS destination are already out there. Just imagine how much louder they will get if the team continues on it's current losing path.
The Impact need to improve and improve FAST.
Since his arrival in Montreal in May of 2012, Marco Di Vaio has brought with him a trunk load of expectations.. some have been met, others haven't.
Flashes of his on-field soccer brilliance have been glorious to experience as a soccer fan in Montreal, but the truth is, in the last year and a half, the Impact have been the worst team in the MLS and if professional soccer is to thrive (not just survive in Montreal) that pendulum has to dramatically begin to swing in the opposite direction, quickly.
If Marco Di Vaio wants to return at a NON DP status and at a significantly lower rate, which will free up cash to find & sign another DP at the striker position that can immediately play and grow with Piatti for the next few years, I say, YES!, bring him back for one more year.
However, if at 39, he demands a DP status that prevents the team from using that money to improve a squad that desperately needs many other on-field positional improvements that can only be acquired through paying out higher salaries, then NO!.. the team needs to build towards a successful, lasting future not continue on their year to year saga towards forgettable mediocrity.
Well, those are my thoughts.. I wonder what other #IMFC supporters think..