Jack Harrison officially is leaving New York City FC.
Harrison signed with Manchester City FC on a three-and-a-half-year deal and subsequently was loaned to Championship club Middlesbrough FC until the end of the season, according to a statement released by the club Tuesday.
“I’ll forever be grateful to everyone at New York City FC for having faith in me and trading up for me in the 2016 MLS Draft,” Harrison, a former No. 1 overall pick, said in the statement. “NYCFC has felt like home from the moment I arrived and has given me some of the best experiences of my life.
“The memories of my two years with NYCFC will live on with me forever. Representing this incredible city has been such a special time in my life and I’ll be continuing to support the team from afar, in 2018 and in the years to come.”
Harrison grew up in Manchester United’s youth system. He then went to high school in Massachusetts and played a year of college ball at Wake Forest before signing a Generation adidas contract with MLS. The Chicago Fire selected him with the first overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft and promptly traded him to NYCFC.
He leaves the Big Apple with 14 goals in 59 appearances over two seasons. Prior to Middlesbrough and Manchester City — NYCFC’s sister club — entering the picture, Harrison’s hometown team, Stoke City, tried to secure the 21-year-old midfielder but couldn’t complete a deal.
MLS’ NYCFC and Premier League side Manchester City are both owned by City Football Group, and the Harrison move is the second of its kind in the last four days. Man City signed former NYC and U.S. men’s national team midfielder Mix Diskerud during the weekend.
Harrison was not shy about his desire for a move back to Europe. During MLS media day in Los Angeles earlier this month, he said, “I think everyone dreams of playing in the top leagues in Europe. Obviously growing up in England and everything it’s always been a dream of mine to play in the Premier League, but as of right now I’m still a New York City player. As to the Stoke City rumors, nothing’s official yet so I’m still a New York City player right now and that’s where my mindset is at. As I said before, my agent deals with all that stuff, so I just leave it to him.”
NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna and coach Patrick Vieira gave Harrison warm wishes upon his departure and praised the club’s coaching, training and scouting staffs for developing Harrison into a player European clubs covet.
“It speaks to the future of our club and soccer in the U.S. We scouted Jack from an early age and he’s now made appearances for England U21’s,” Reyna said. “Of course, it’s sad to see Jack go but at the same time, we recognize this is an opportunity that he felt ready for and wanted. Most importantly, we’re extremely confident that we’re heading into this new season with a very strong squad.”