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14-Year-Old American Cavan Sullivan Signs With Manchester City Academy

Alex Lee

Sullivan poses with his Golden Ball from the CONCACAF U-15 Championship

On March 26, Philadelphia Union agreed to a deal with Manchester City that will see 14-year-old star Cavan Sullivan join City’s academy when he turns 18. A report from “The Atlantic” indicates City will pay in excess of $2 million upfront, with another $5 million and a sell-on clause expected to be added to the original fee. 

This agreement comes after a lengthy battle between top European clubs, such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, to secure his services. Until then, Sullivan will be working with the Union to sign an MLS homegrown contract and join the club’s first team to continue his development.

Sullivan burst onto the scene last spring during the GA Cup, a prestigious tournament that features some of the best youth teams from across the globe. At only 13, Sullivan played for the Union’s U15 team and helped them beat difficult opponents such as Arsenal and Real Madrid. His talented performance was recognized as he was named in the GA Cup Best XI following the tournament. He continued to excel as he took his talents to the international stage at the CONCACAF U15 Championship, during which he won the Golden Ball with the USYNT.

Since then, Sullivan has continued to garner attention through his performances for the Union’s U17 side. Despite playing against players two to three years older than him, he has not only kept up but has also emphatically impressed his coaches and the rest of the world.

“Those that maybe haven’t learned yet, a young Cavan Sullivan has the talent and ability to become, I’ll just say a household name and is doing really big things,” said Union head coach Jim Curtin in 2023.

From this success and attention, Sullivan began to train with the Union’s second team before earning a spot on their bench. He eventually made his professional-level debut on March 24 with Union II, even registering an assist in the match. His unprecedented move to Manchester, however, has understandably added another level of pressure and attention to his game. 

Thrown onto the global stage at just 14, Manchester City scouts understand the weight on his shoulders and proceed with caution in attracting attention as he tries to live up to his “wonderkid” potential. Instead of adding additional stress, it is beneficial for the public to appreciate his talents in the context of the United States’ development as a soccer country.

While the world dismisses the U.S. as a hub for soccer, transfers like Sullivan signify the country’s growing interest in soccer and the larger pool of talented youth. Soccer in America will continue to develop as Sullivan and potentially many other bright stars make the move to European clubs to realize their full ability and represent the United States on the world stage.


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