Loans

Rodolfo Pizarro leaving Inter Miami on loan to Monterrey

Rodolfo Pizarro returns to his native Mexico.

Two league sources confirmed on Wednesday that Inter Miami are finalizing a deal to move the Mexican playmaker to Monterrey on loan with an option to buy his contract.

Pizarro played for Monterrey “Rayados” before signing with Miami as the first-designated player in early 2020. He’s eager to get back into the Mexican squad, so playing in Liga MX should suit him. During his two seasons with Monterrey Pizarro he helped the club win the CONCACAF Champions League and League title.

Pizarro is one of Miami’s three high-priced DPs, making $3.35 million a year, and his departure has been expected as the club overhauls its roster and needs to dump salary to make up for massive MLS fines for violating roster rules in the Blaise Matuidi deal.

Pizarro, 27, has impressed fans with his flashy skills, but his pairing with striker Gonzalo Higuain wasn’t as fruitful as expected. He scored seven goals in 46 games with Miami and showed his frustration at various points last season.

Pizarro was at his best and played more freely when Higuain was not on the court.

Higuain, the team’s top scorer with 12 goals and seven assists, was more comfortable when his brother, midfielder Federico, put the ball to him. When his brother wasn’t playing, he tended to go back to No. 10 to help create the attack and this conquered Pizarro’s space. Pizarro mentioned to reporters mid-season that he and Higuain need to know how to play together. Higuain said he needed better service at the box. His body language often showed his frustration with his teammates.

Pizarro struggled through the early months of 2021 before turning things around in mid-August. He scored the winning goal in stoppage time in the 3-2 win over Chicago Fire and scored twice in the 3-1 win over Toronto FC.

The goal against Chicago was his first this season and first for club or country since October 2020. The 2021 season started with a strong game against LA Galaxy, but his performance fell after that. Slowed by a nagging thigh injury, he was left out of the Mexican squad for a few matches and was put on the bench by Inter Miami coaches in July.

He said in an interview in August that he lost confidence and didn’t feel like a vital part of the team.

“I had personal issues that I dealt with, the injury… I didn’t have my family near me, so it affected me,” said Pizarro. “For me, confidence is everything and I didn’t feel important. I’ve lost confidence in myself. But in the past three weeks I’ve been working on it and enjoying the game again. I’m happy. I know who I am. When you have confidence, it goes well.” This is true in any profession.”

His performances in Chicago and Toronto earned him a last-minute invite to the MLS All-Star Game. He was added to the event to fill in the void left by the absence of Mexican forwards Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC) and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (LA Galaxy), who were both injured.

Inter Miami may replace Pizarro with Brazilian Rafael Vega, the 26-year-old playmaker who has scored 41 goals and provided 11 assists in 139 games for Palmeiras since his arrival in 2017. Inter Miami have been in negotiations with Vega over the past month.

He helped the club win the historic treble at Campeonato Paulista, the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Brazil in 2020. A few weeks ago, he scored a goal in the 2-1 Copa Libertadores win over Flamengo.

Inter Miami was expected to unload at least one of the three DPs, and Pizarro made more sense. Higuain and Matuidi will be 34 at the start of next season. They both have one year left in their contracts, but their age and salaries make them hard to sell.

Higuain is the third highest paid player in the league with $5.79 million annually, Matuidi’s base salary is $1.5 million, but he is said to earn nearly $4 million including image rights and other bonuses.

The Pizarro deal is Inter Miami’s latest move off the season.

Last month, the club loaned Julian Carranza to Philadelphia Union, and added quarterback/background Mo Adams from Atlanta United to acquire the rights to reserve goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira, winger/forward Ariel Lasseter (son of former MLS star Roy Lasseter) from Houston Dynamo and the Brazilian. . Midfielder Jan Motta from Santos. The club also re-signed veteran midfielder Victor Oloa and replaced winger Lewis Morgan with the New York Red Bulls for $1.2 million in general allocation money.

Inter Miami finished 11th in the Eastern Conference this season, with four places from the playoffs. Training camp begins on January 17 and the season opener will be at home on February 26 against Chicago Fire.

Singles tickets for the 17 home games are available through Ticketmaster.com. Fans can also call 305-428-0611 for more information.

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Miami Herald sports writer Michelle Kaufman has covered 14 Olympics, six World Cups, Wimbledon, US Open, NCAA basketball tournaments, NBA Playoffs, and Super Bowls and has been a football and basketball writer at the University of Miami for 25 years. She was born in Frederick, Maryland, and raised in Miami.

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