After 10 months and 26 matches, Matías Pérez García finally scored his first goal in an Orlando City uniform on Saturday, striking first in the 3-3 home tie with the Montreal Impact. But it could very well be his last one as the Argentinean revealed during his post-match interviews that his contract with the club is about to expire.
MPG: "I have 15 days left on my contract … maybe it's my last one. The idea is to stay here, hopefully something get resolved soon." https://t.co/VhA1HP0Y6X— Mike Gramajo (@byMikeGramajo) June 18, 2017
Popularly known as MPG, the diminutive Argentinean was acquired by the Lions less than a year ago. The acquisition was the first move the club made after Head Coach Jason Kreis took over. The trade with the San Jose Earthquakes, which sent defensive midfielder Darwin Cerén to the Californian franchise, seems to have worked pretty well for both sides. But should Orlando sign Pérez García to a new deal?
The fact that his current contract is due to expire in 11 days and MPG and the club have yet to reach an agreement shows that the Lions are not 100% sure if they want to keep the Argentinean around for any longer. MPG, though, seems to be very open to stay, as he remarked after the Impact game.
“My plan is to stay here”, he told the media. “I hope we can have a decision as soon as possible. That would be good for me as I would be able to play more relaxed and also for my family as I have moved a lot recently and I know it is not easy for them. Hopefully we’ll be able to agree on a deal that’s good for me and for Orlando City”.
In spite of being scoreless for nine months, MPG has been an important contributor to the Lions on the field, playing either as No. 10 or as a winger, most often on the right side. He is the 11th most-used player on the roster this season, with 875 minutes logged. Over his 26 games with the club, he amassed four assists, including two this season, numbers that make him third-best on the team in assists according to WhoScored.com.
The Argentinean also developed into a two-way player under Kreis, putting a lot of effort into his defensive game. That’s why he is the second-best tackler of the team, averaging 2.9 per game, only behind PC, who has 4.7. It was no different against Montreal, when Kreis praised his dedication to the team.
“He had to be, for me, one of the most committed players out there”, Kreis commented. “Scored the goal, he had a part in the second goal and he assisted on the third. Really important match for him tonight, I thought he did a fantastic job.”
His price tag is not prohibitive as well. According to the MLS Players Union salaries list, MPG earns the seventh-highest salary on the roster, behind Kaká, Antonio Nocerino, Giles Barnes, Jonathan Spector, Will Johnson, and Carlos Rivas, making around $260,000 per year.
The reasons for not keeping the Argentinean start from his age. At 32, he is not old yet, but has clearly already reached his peak as a player. Considering that Kaká is 35, it would make sense if the club was targeting a younger attacking midfielder in the upcoming transfer window; a player who could pair with the Brazilian immediately and eventually replace him when he is gone. If that happens, maybe letting MPG walk could be necessary to make the deal work.
With all that said, it looks like the best option for Orlando is keeping MPG on a short-term deal — 18 months maybe — if he’s willing to take a similar deal to his current one. If the option is to let him go, we could expect the Lions to be active in the market looking for a replacement.