Erik Palmer-Brown is leaving Kansas City in favor of the English Premier League.
Palmer-Brown, a Sporting Kansas City homegrown defender from Lee’s Summit, has decided to sign a multiyear contract with Manchester City.
He will finish out the MLS season with Sporting KC, and his new deal in England will take effect in 2018. But because his MLS contract is within six months of expiration, he is allowed to sign a pre-contract to secure his future.
“He came to us and said there might be an opportunity. I said to him, ‘Look, if that’s what you want to do, then we’ll support you,’ ” Sporting KC coach and technical director Peter Vermes said. “He’s played out his contract. It’s happened with other guys. It’s just one of those situations.”
Palmer-Brown, 20, inked his first professional deal with Sporting KC in 2013 after spending time with the club’s academy. At the time, he was the youngest signing in club history, though that has since been surpassed by Gianluca Busio. Palmer-Brown graduated from O’Hara High School.
In past years, Sporting KC has turned down significant transfer offers for Palmer-Brown. Sporting KC will not receive a transfer fee when Palmer-Brown departs Kansas City, but the club will retain his MLS rights if he chooses to return to the league at a later date.
Palmer-Brown has been weighing potential overseas options for more than a month and had multiple clubs interested in him, a source said. He approached Sporting KC about those opportunities this summer.
Sporting KC countered with an offer, but it did not approach what he will likely receive from Manchester City, which presumably will loan him elsewhere in Europe for the immediate term.
“We believed we made him a very good offer in MLS,” Vermes said.
Palmer-Brown was on the bench for Sporting KC in its 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew on Sunday afternoon. With Matt Besler and Ike Opara locked into the starting spots at center back, Palmer-Brown has been limited to four starts in MLS play this season, though he has drawn consistent compliments from the coaching staff after those appearances. Besler and Opara are both under contract for next season, as well.
In total, Palmer-Brown has made 18 appearances — 10 of them starts — since his MLS debut in 2014 made him the youngest player in league history to start a match at defender.
He spent the 2016 season on loan to FC Porto in Portugal before returning to Kansas City in 2017. He has been a regular fixture in the United States men’s national team system and captained the U-20 team to the CONCACAF U-20 championship in Costa Rica earlier this year.