Manchester City may have just unearthed another uncut gem.

USMNT and England are set to do battle for Pep Guardiola’s next star full-back

Manchester City are at it again. Word on the street is they’re eyeing up a young American baller and are about to put a contract in front of him, even though he’s yet to play a single match in MLS.

Left-back Christian McFarlane signed for NYCFC in 2021 at the age of 14, and has been evolving his game in their academy and second team ever since. Now 17, he looks ready for Major League Soccer, but his time in the USA’s top league may well be short and sweet.

McFarlane was actually born in Basildon (that’s in Essex, Southeast England), but moved to the States when he was three years old. NYCFC picked him up from a soccer academy in Long Island—his home in the US—noting that he was way ahead of his peers in terms of football development.

In an interview with the club website, McFarlane’s mother divulges that the academy staff played him in every single position on the pitch aside from goalkeeper, in order to figure out where he was best suited to playing, before landing on left-back. That seems to have paid off, as he looks a natural. The perfect frame and ideal attributes for a modern left-back.

See for yourself (put it on mute, the music is horrendous):

McFarlane is pacy and strong, yet has the agility and balance to get out of a tight spot or beat an opponent. He’s equally happy overlapping down the outside or driving into space in the centre of the pitch. He’s strong in the air and, unusually for a full-back who is so comfortable going forward, he appears to be a superb 1v1 defender, with long legs that nick the ball from you when you least expect it.

He’s more Walker than Trippier. The defensive solidity of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, mixed with a touch of Nuno Mendes in attack. Perfect, in theory. He’s still a kid and yet to play a first team match, but you can see why City, Bayern, and Dortmund have been keeping a close eye on the teenager.

Interestingly, McFarlane has split his international career between England and the USA, so far. Back in 2022 he made six appearances for England’s Under-16s, before turning out three times for the USA’s Under-16s the following year. In that same year (2023) McFarlane played nine times for England Under-17s and scored his first international goal.

Christian is also qualified to play for Jamaica if he were to choose them and they were to choose him. That means we could see an international triple threat match kicking off, should McFarlane fulfil his potential. We’d quite like to see one representative from each time stepping into the ring and slugging it out for the teenager’s loyalty. Although, Michail Antonio plays for Jamaica, and he is f*cking stacked, so that might be a foregone conclusion.

By the way, if you were wondering how an American robot pronounces the word ‘Basildon’, look no further.

@newyorkcityfc Christian McFarlane’s journey to professional football ⚽️💙 #nycfc #mls #future #boys #soccer #mlsnext #nyc ♬ original sound – nycfc

Bah-ZEEL-den. God, the internet is bleak.

Where were we? That’s right — Michail Antonio is clearly rock hard. So maybe McFarlane will end up representing the Reggae Boyz. Who knows? Although, the kid is literally draped in an England flag in his Instagram profile pic, so…

England might also be a smart choice for the youngster, as the Three Lions aren’t exactly blessed at left-back right now. Ben Chilwell is injury-prone, as is Luke Shaw. Tyrick Mitchell hasn’t played for England since 2022 despite being superb for Crystal Palace, and Joe Gomez would rather be playing centrally.

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At club level, a path to the first team is also waiting to be trodden. NYCFC only have one senior left-back ahead of Christian in the pecking order right now, in the shape of Kevin O’Toole. Should O’Toole pick up an injury or come into some poor form, McFarlane is the natural replacement, so starboy’s chance could come sooner rather than later.

If he does go to Manchester City, which seems extremely likely, especially considering their affiliation with NYCFC, left-back is a position in which they lack depth. Josko Gvardiol and Nathan Ake are both natural centre-backs (although Pep is currently in his four-centre-backs-Tony-Pulis-is-life phase), and Sergio Gomez has found playing time difficult to come by.

Opportunity awaits for McFarlane, but he’ll have to break into NYCFC’s first team before he does anything else. Even if he signed for City today, he wouldn’t be allowed to join them until his 18th birthday anyway. The Athletic report that a deal is already in the works.

The future is bright for Christian, and it seems like a matter of time until he emulates former NYCFC full-back Joe Scally and forges a route to Europe.

We’re calling it now: England’s Euro 2028 squad — return of the Mack.


From the States.

Because he was born in Basild… forget it.

By Andrew Martin