SALT LAKE CITY — Real Salt Lake has a track record of locking up important players to long-term contracts, and that trend continued Wednesday.
Following weeks of intense negotiations between multiple parties, RSL successfully purchased the contract of Alvaro Saborio from his Swiss club FC Sion. Due to the fees associated with the purchase, Saborio becomes the first "Designated Player" in team history, a rule that enables teams to exceed the salary cap on select players.
"First and foremost, I must express the deepest gratitude to Real Salt Lake ownership for stepping up and making the moves necessary to keep this team together," said the RSL general manager in a statement. "We are delighted that Alvaro has made a long-term commitment to Real Salt Lake, and we hope this signing contributes to our future success."
Saborio had a banner year with Real Salt Lake during his season-long loan last year. He scored 12 goals in league play and another six in the CONCACAF Champions League, production that earned him the MLS Newcomer of the Year award.
Per team rules, the details of the contract weren't announced, but his "Designated Player" status makes him the highest-paid player on the team. The first $335,000 of his salary counts toward the salary cap, but the rest is exempt under the DP rule. Javier Morales was RSL's highest-paid player in 2010 at $252,500.
The Designated Player rule was implemented in 2007 to help the Los Angeles Galaxy sign David Beckham. The rule has been tweaked along the way, and four years later nearly half the teams in MLS have signed at least one player to a DP contract.
The first two years of Saborio's four-year contract are guaranteed, while RSL has options on the second two years. Saborio is the latest RSL player to sign a long-term deal, following in the footsteps of Javier Morales, Jamison Olave and Kyle Beckerman.
"For him to move to a club competing in CONCACAF and one so dedicated to international success has been an excellent, great situation for Sabo," said Horacio Patanian, Saborio's representative. "Garth Lagerwey has been outstanding to deal with, and I am very comfortable with the manner in which he and the club have handled the player's interests."
Saborio has scored 22 goals in 57 international appearances with Costa Rica. He made two appearances in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.