I love Mauricio Pereyra. I will never outright slander Orlando's first trophy-winning captain, especially one who's such an effective leader and talented player. Pereyra is easily one of the best players Orlando's brought in to date, and that much will never be in question.
However, it may be time that Orlando City moves on from its captain and talismanic No. 10.
Pereyra nearly left the club last season, but he was re-signed to a new Designated Player contract. That deal is set to expire this offseason, and the Lions would be wise not to bring back the 32-year-old on another DP contract.
At this point in his career, Pereyra doesn't provide enough to justify a DP price tag. One goal and eight assists is decent, and his all-around play is quite good, but as one of just three high-priced players in the squad, that's not enough raw production, or at least not as much as Orlando could potentially fetch.
Major League Soccer has been and still is dominated by prolific No. 10s. Sebastian Driussi of Austin FC, Alejandro Pozuelo in Miami, Riqui Puig for the Los Angeles Galaxy and Carles Gil of the New England Revolution are just a handful of examples of elite No. 10s who more than deserve the DP tag.
While Pereyra's excellent, he's no longer close to that tier of player. If Orlando is serious about making a run at MLS Cup and contending for trophies every year, it needs its own Gil or Driussi. With a bigger budget than ever before and a whole world of talented creative midfielders, the time is now for Orlando City to go big-game hunting for an MVP-caliber No. 10.
This player should be an in-his-prime talent, be it from an under-heralded league like Driussi (Russia) or not quite making the cut at the highest level like Puig (Spain). That's the type of player Orlando needs to build around.
Veterans like Nani and Kaka are amazing, and young phenoms like Facundo Torres are fantastic, but Orlando needs an in-his-prime superstar committed long term to take the next step as a club, and this offseason is the time to make that move.