Under an avalanche of big-name players linked with one of Inter Miami's coveted Designated Player spots, only three would become reality in 2020. On Monday, it became official who would take up the second of those.
The club announced the big-money acquisition of Rodolfo Pizarro from CF Monterrey and, while not a shock given he played (and scored) in Miami's preseason match on Saturday, it's still a huge move.
Well-known south of the border given his time across three of Liga MX's biggest clubs, the 26-year-old is looking to become a star in MLS. Here's what you need to know about Rodolfo Pizarro, Miami's new leading man.
No stranger to a big transfer
Kicking off his career with Pachuca, Pizarro broke through in 2012 for his senior debut. Alongside a golden generation of sorts, including current Mexico international Hirving Lozano (now at Napoli) and Erick Gutierrez (PSV), Pizarro and co. led the club to their first league title in almost a decade by winning the 2016 Clausura.
Pizarro would make 144 appearances with the club, adding nine goals and 13 assists before being sold for a reported $15 million transfer fee to Chivas Guadalajara. During his time with Chivas, Pizarro would help lead the club to a Clausura title in 2017 then a Concacaf Champions League triumph in 2018, where his side beat Toronto FC after penalties. Pizarro was named Best Young Player of the tournament as well as a place in the Best XI.
His time with Chivas is his most statistically proficient of his career, with 15 goals and 10 assists in 58 appearances. The success paved the way for giants Monterrey to splash a reported $16 million, a record for an interleague transfer in Liga MX. While it didn't work out as perfectly as planned at Monterrey, Pizarro did help lead the club to an Apertura 2019 title as well as a CCL title in the same season, the second of his career.
Familiarity with Diego Alonso
Joining a new club, Pizarro reunited for a former boss. Inter Miami's first head coach was the manager at Pachuca from 2014-18 when Pizarro was making his name and then at Monterrey when the club made Pizarro a record signing.
Now, they're running it back in Miami. Pizarro figures to slot in at attacking midfield in Alonso's preferred 4-2-3-1, though he can also play on the wings if need be. Here's what Mexican soccer expert Cesar Hernandez wrote of Pizarro's play style and ability:
"Playmaking is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Pizarro. ... The attack-minded player has regularly done a superb job of linking up with teammates in the final third through his accurate short passing. His added flair and dribbling also make him a threat in one-on-one situations."
For club and country
A regular trophy winner at the club level, Pizarro has tasted success with Mexico, too.
With El Tri missing a number of key players at last summer's Gold Cup, Pizarro stepped up and played a big role in his side beating the USMNT in the final. He parlayed that success into starting three of his side's four Nations League games, with Mexico now awaiting the final championship. They play Costa Rica in the semifinal and would face the winner of the United States vs. Honduras should they advance.
Pizarro now has 25 caps for his country, with five goals.