By Nick Chávez
If seeing this photo made you feel a sharp pang in your heart, you’re not alone.
Yes, it’s true. The Fresh Prince of New York City FC has decided he didn’t want to wait any longer to challenge himself in his native England, and who can blame him for it?
Our beloved Jack Harrison has ambitions of making the England National Team’s senior side, competing in the Premier League and he’s at the perfect age to make that jump. He’s also likely getting a significant raise. Anything can happen in life, so when opportunity like this comes knocking, it’s wise to open that door.
Not to mention, he has the blessing of his head coach Patrick Vieira and club. It’s clear that NYCFC has been preparing for Jack’s departure with the signings of the likes of Jesus Medina, Ismael Tajouri, and Jo Inge Berget. Jonathan Lewis and Rodney Wallace have been known to do a good job as well. Let’s not forget that Maxi Moralez, Ronald Matarrita and Tommy McNamara can all play effectively on the wings as well.
Without a doubt, now was the time to cash in on this talented young man. New York City FC did just that. The reported price paid to Chicago Fire S.C. to transfer Jack to Los Celestes during the 2016 MLS SuperDraft was a paltry $250K. New York City FC now reportedly collecting anywhere from $6-7 million, or more, along with performance bonuses and a “sizable” sell-on clause. All the while keeping him in the City Football Group family.
As i noted in the piece this morning, this transfer package is less than other offers in up front cash, but the inclusion of performance bonuses and a sell-on mean that it could be an even bigger boon for #NYCFC if Harrison does well and makes a big summer move. #MLS
— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) January 30, 2018
Yes, that is correct, our glamorous sister club Manchester City F.C. pulled $6 million out of her bottomless designer purse to buy the rights to Jack Harrison, and have loaned him out to good ‘ol Middlesbrough F.C., currently sitting 8th in The Championship (England’s 2nd Division) standings.
There, Jack can help Boro in its push to get promoted to the Prem, and perhaps land a permanent contract with the club. If Boro doesn’t get promoted, his performances are likely to be noticed by other clubs that will be taking part in the Premier League, and there’s a chance he’ll find a home with one of them. Or at least another loan deal.
In the unlikely event that Jack doesn’t impress in the Championship and doesn’t find any offers that suit him, he can always be loaned back to NYCFC as well. Just one of the benefits of signing with Manchester City, but again, I expect Jack to do well in Europe and find a suitable home somewhere on the old continent and remain for many years to come.
Unlike the disaster transfer saga of Cyle Larin at Orlando City SC, all parties involved seem quite really pleased by this piece of business, and have handled Jack’s departure with class. By the way, remember when they used to say Orlando City was the example of how to do things “the right way”, and NYCFC was the opposite? Yea, that take hasn’t aged too well.
Indeed, as bittersweet as it is to see our boy Jack leave for Europe, this was truly a very important transfer for New York City Football Club. NYCFC has been handsomely rewarded monetarily and on the pitch for taking a chance on him in the MLS SuperDraft, and maybe even more importantly, they have shown to the world that they are a club that can take U.S. college soccer stand-outs and help mold them into English Premier League transfer targets within 2 years.
Imagine what NYCFC can do with players coming from pathways that more traditionally lead to Europe, like the talented young prospects coming from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Chile etc.? Arguably it should be even easier. It’s likely that more and more potential stars of the future and their agents, will see it that way as well.
Crucially, if these clubs from European leagues come with offers, NYCFC has proven to these onlooking young prospects that it won’t stand in a player’s way to make that career move — for the right price, that is. NYCFC’s hardball negotiation with Stoke City F.C. has sent a message to Europe that they will not be taken advantage of in the transfer market.
Furthermore, because of NYCFC’s relationship with CFG, it’s very difficult to force NYCFC’s hand like Cyle Larin did with Orlando City. Manchester City can just buy the player before the trade deadline if necessary, do with him as they see fit and NYCFC can wash their hands of the whole thing.
Just a few of the perks of being a key member of an ambitious global football network owned by one of the wealthiest men on Earth. Another one of those perks is that said owner is one of the few sports owners on Earth who is wealthy enough to bankroll an MLS soccer stadium in New York City proper. But, I digress.
The importance of this signal to the world that MLS, and especially NYCFC, is a pathway to the biggest leagues in Europe cannot be overstated. It will certainly convince more and more of the world’s best young prospects to try NYCFC first, where they may be more likely to see starting time, train under a World Cup winner like Patrick Vieira, already be in the spotlight of Manchester City and its scouts, have the potential to shine in the media capital of the world, and get to live in New York City. That, my fellow NYCFC Family members is what you call a good situation to find yourself in as a young footballer.
The more of those players NYCFC and MLS bring in, the better the team and the league will get. The profile and reputation of the league will then continue to improve, drawing more fans, and more talent. These younger players will understand that the league has strong competition which won’t hurt their opportunities with international call-ups. Furthermore, every one of these young studs who get sold for bigger profits, increases the money for MLS clubs to invest in even more talent, better coaches, established stars in their prime, marketing efforts, homegrown player development, scouts, etc.
If you haven’t noticed, all of this already happening, though just recently. Things are moving very quickly with this league, and it seems NYCFC has been launched at the right time after all. MLS is allowing for significantly more spending each season with increases in allocation money, and this increases the quality of the league many times over.
If MLS continues on this trajectory, it’s only a matter of time before MLS matches surpasses the level of quality of Mexico’s Liga MX. After that, the goal will be to reach the level of quality of the the big 4 leagues in Europe. Naysayers like to act like this reality is in a remote, distant future, but I assure, at this rate, it is not.
In the meantime, embrace being a selling league and a place for the world’s future stars to cut their teeth and show their talent. This has how it’s been for the best leagues and clubs in South America, Central America and Mexico for many decades, as well as the proud mid-level leagues in Europe, and it’s the next logical step for MLS. But, it is not the final ambition of this league or our beloved club.
With all that aside, I encourage everyone to be happy for Jack Harrison and wish him the very best. We all know him to be a very nice and humble guy with a lot of talent and he deserves to see how high his ceiling is. Take pride in knowing he started his professional career here, and remember fondly how he led New York City to its first-ever victory over the New York Red Bulls, and how he loved to score against those New Jersey rag-tags.
Man, what a lovely ball that was from Jack to the Captain. Yea, we’re going to miss moments like that from Jack, but I think there will be a lot more where that came from with this revamped 2018 New York City FC squad, which easily looks like the best NYCFC of all-time, on paper. These are exciting times.
So, whether you call him Jack Flash, Jack The Ripper, Magic Jack, or Jack Frost, our boy Jack has finally hit the road chasing his destiny, and we should do nothing but smile, be proud, and wish him all the joy and success in the world. He’s one of our own and he’ll always have a home in New York.