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Kaku caper: New York Red Bulls midfielder a steal at $709,000

Apr 14, 2018; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Alejandro Romero Gamarra (10) in action against the Montreal Impact at Red Bull Arena. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

It’s a Kaku caper!

The New York Red Bulls have been known for their shrewd business acumen, and based on the MLS Players Association annual salary guide released Thursday, they may have pulled off the deal of the year in signing the young Argentine playmaker.

Although the Red Bulls spent a club-record $6.25 million on the transfer fee to land the 23-year-old midfielder from Club Huracán, Kaku is being paid $709,090.80 annually, a steal considering his stature as a young Designated Player, his impact on the field — he leads the league with six assists and has three goals — and his future value when/if the club sells him.

Not surprisingly, Bradley Wright-Phillips, the club’s Designated Player, tops the salary list at a modest guaranteed compensation of $1.635 million. The 33-year-old forward is 24th on the league list despite regularly being among the leading scorers in MLS. He is 11th all-time in MLS regular-season goals with 147 and won the MLS Golden Boot award twice. He already has six goals, one behind leader Josef Martinez of Atlanta United, and four assists this season. 

>> Check out Pro Soccer USA’s full searchable, sortable database of MLS player salaries.

Second on the squad is Marc Rzatkowski, who will be paid $976,166.66 in total compensation during his season-long loan from Red Bull Salzburg.

A team that prides itself on promoting from within and cultivating Homegrown talent, expectedly gets the most bang for its buck. The Red Bulls are ranked 18th overall in MLS with an $8,056,605.65 budget — $6 million less than rival New York City FC, who is third behind Toronto FC ($26,167,498.70) and the LA Galaxy ($17,502,008.30 )

Here’s a look at the Red Bulls starting XI from Saturday and their annual guaranteed compensation:

GK – Luis Robles ($460,000.08)

D – Kemar Lawrence ($255,600)

D – Aaron Long ($73,125)

D – Tim Parker ($115,935)

D – Michael Murillo ($88,754)

M – Sean Davis ($261,666.67)

M – Tyler Adams ($153,541.67)

M – Florian Valot ($71,136.45)

M – Kaku ($709,090.80)

M – Danny Royer ($668,750.00)

F  – Bradley Wright-Phillips ($1,635,000)

Total: $4,492,597

In comparison, that’s $2,622,958 less than Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco pulls in per season as the league’s top earner.

Despite getting high value throughout the roster — Tyler Adams at $153,541.67 is another prime example — there are overpaid players on the Red Bulls roster. Chief among them is Carlos Rivas, who arrived with Tommy Redding in a trade that sent Sacha Kljestan to Orlando City SC. The Colombian, who has been playing with Red Bull II, earns $444,996. And Aurelien Collin, a regular starter in central defense before Tim Parker was acquired in a trade for Felipe, gets $450,000 in guaranteed compensation.

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