One of Major League Soccer’s most talented young starlets is headed overseas.
Sporting KC defender Erik Palmer-Brown has agreed to a pre-contract with Manchester City, according to a report on Monday from Metro.
According to Metro’s sources, the deal runs four-and-a-half years, and the Premier League side beat out the likes of Ajax, PSV and Paris Saint-Germain for his services.
Palmer-Brown is set to join his new club following Sporting KC’s season and is anticipated to head out on loan to another European side for the remainder of 2017-18. The 20-year-old spent most of 2016 out on loan to Porto, and helped its B-team win the title in Portugal’s second division.
A youth product of the club since 2009, Palmer-Brown signed his professional contract with Sporting KC in 2013 at 16, becoming its youngest ever player. During that time, he has also appeared for the U.S. at various youth international levels. Earlier this year, Palmer-Brown was named the best player at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, and was later named to the best XI at the FIFA U-20 World Cup where the U.S. reached the quarterfinal stage.
The loser in the deal is clearly the parent club and MLS. Several clubs in Europe came to Sporting with offers for the U.S. U-20 captain, including Juventus, who bid at least $1 million for Palmer-Brown, and then came back with two more increased bids, all shot down by Sporting KC.
Now, forced to make a choice with Matt Besler already locked up to a sizable deal and Ike Opara — the team’s other starting central defender — due for a new contract soon, KC’s contract offer either wasn’t enough, and Palmer-Brown will walk with no compensation. Sporting are certainly concerned with the here and now (a U.S. Open Cup final looms next week), but just recently have looked to be profit over powerhouse in recent years. At the very least, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Palmer-Brown could’ve commanded a fee closer to $5 million in the next year or two if he kept on his current trajectory.
UPDATED: For U.S. fans, the hope is that he experiences the same success as other young center backs plying their trade overseas. Matt Miazga has looked good on loan from Chelsea at Vitesse in the Eridivisie, while Cameron Carter-Vickers, owned by Tottenham, scored in his debut Tuesday with his new loan club, Sheffield United.