Both Ryan Shawcross and Gregore de Magalhães da Silva are on their way to South Florida ahead of the 2021 MLS Season. Inter Miami CF announced both signings this week (on Feb. 20 and Feb 24, respectively), and the roster under Phil Neville is beginning to take shape.
It has not been reported how long Ryan Shawcross has been signed for, but for Gregore, it’s a 4-year deal with an option in the fifth.
When it comes to money, it seems as though Shawcross’s deal falls under the normal salary budget. Gregore’s contract will join Blaise Matuidi’s and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s under the club’s Targeted Allocation Money. Both Shawcross and Gregore will also take up international roster slots.
Is Shawcross the Starter?
It would be tough to argue that a long-time Premier League veteran, long-time Stoke City captain at just 33-years old, could NOT be the starter, but I’m here to do just that.
However, this argument relies on the Phill Neville variable and how he will use players after seeing them for 6 weeks in training camp. He specifically referred to Jorge Figal as a right-back in his introductory press conference a couple of weeks back, and if that does end up being the case, this argument is fully invalid.
If Figal is to be seen as a center-back, though, there’s no reason for Shawcross to be used as anything but cover and depth behind an LGP/Figal center-back partnership.
It’s not to say that I don’t believe Ryan Shawcross is an excellent defender who possesses highly valuable leadership qualities that are hard to come by, but there are other things at play here.
Shawcross has only played 247 minutes of first-team football for Stoke, dating back to March of 2020, and a large part of it has to do with injury.
Given this injury history and lack of minutes in professional games, saying that 6 weeks of preseason may not be enough is an understatement.
There is absolutely no reason for him to be forced on as the starter especially given his age and unfamiliarity with the league. There is also no pressure for him to perform like a starter right away because this is not what would be considered a “big-money signing.” Remember, not a DP, not using TAM or GAM on him, no special MLS rules. Just a simple signing under the normal salary budget. Oh, and it was a free transfer.
Down the line, Shawcross’s value will come from subbing on late in games to hold the lead, veteran presence, his starts for when LGP and Figal are either injured or suspended, etc.
If he is to come from England and get out of the MLS pre-season in TIP-TOP shape, then sure, maybe he’s the starter. But I don’t see him being fully fit for 90 minutes in an MLS match by the middle of April. I also look forward to being proven wrong.
Neville’s Midfield with Gregore
Until Matuidi came in, Inter Miami’s midfield being run by Victor Ulloa and Wil Trapp was a borderline disaster. The backline seemed to have had no protection, and the pair could not help transition the ball from the defense to their attackers up top. Bringing in Matuidi helped a ton, but unfortunately, Trapp nor Ulloa was good enough or consistent enough to solidify themselves as Blaise’s partner.
With the expectation that Phil Neville will try to run his favored 4-3-3 formation or a variation of it, Matuidi is definitely going to need help in the middle of the pitch. Signing Gregore for a reported $4 million and using TAM on him is worth it.
Gregore is an all-around defensive midfielder who excels at winning the ball in the middle of the pitch. He will provide the backline a ton of protection with his ball-winning skills and ability to read the game well. His tackling is outstanding; No nonsense, get stuck in style, and puts 100% behind winning the ball all the time.
He also will relieve Matuidi of a ton of defensive duties. He’s so good at covering the back that Matuidi will now be able to drive forward (comfortably, with protection) as a playmaker alongside Pizarro out of the midfield.
Gregore short passing ability is also good enough that he will be able to provide service of the ball from the backline to the attackers. He’s not shy to get forward when he needs to, and he possesses the quality to score a banger every once in a while.
Get excited #InterMiamiCF fans
Gregore will become a fan favorite in my opinion. pic.twitter.com/E9KQgw1pQg
— Austin Robillard (@AustinRobillard) February 24, 2021
I see Gregore starting as many games as he is possibly fit for, and right away. You needed a midfield pairing for Matuidi before, and now even more so in a Neville style 4-3-3. Way to get your man, Chris Henderson.
Both signings were very, very good for Inter Miami. Shawcross on a relatively small deal for what he could provide and one of, if not the best midfielders in Brazil over on a deal that doesn’t cost you a DP slot but will turn out to produce like one.
Shawcross and Gregore have bolstered the squad tremendously, but I don’t think that the Front Office is quite done making moves. Expect more before pre-season.