UPDATE: New York City FC announced that the club signed defender Mitja Ilenič through 2026 with an option for 2027. The Slovenian turned 18 on December 26, 2022.
NYCFC sporting director David Lee called Ilenič “an attack minded right back who is comfortable in possession, has excellent physical attributes and can impact the game in the final third.”
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED DECEMBER 30, 2022, 8:00 AM ET: Word is coming from the Slovenian press that New York City FC paid close to a €1 million fee to sign 18-year-old Mitja Ilenič, a right-back who plays for NK Domžale in the Slovenian PrvaLiga. Ilenič has made seven appearances for Slovenia’s national youth teams, most recently featuring for the Slovenia U21 squad. Transfermarkt values the right-back at €400,000.
According to an article published earlier this month in Nogomania (“nogometni” is Slovenian for “football”), NYCFC outbid Austrian Football Bundesliga side SK Sturm Graz, which was only willing to pay a €500,000 transfer fee. A few days later, @NYCFCSOURCE tweeted that New York City will pay a fee that “is reported to be around €1M.” Yesterday, the Polish football scout Paweł Turek tweeted that the deal was finalized. Turek also reposted a nifty highlight reel he originally posted back in September.
Ilenič, who turned 18 just four days ago, joined NK Domžale in January of this year. and became a regular starter for the team. NK Domžale sit in fifth place on the 10-team table, with 31 points after 20 games.
Presumably, Ilenič will add depth to the right-back position behind Tayvon Gray, who signed a two-year extension with NYCFC in November. The 20-year-old Gray became New York City’s starting right back after Anton Tinnerholm suffered an Achilles injury in 2021. Tinnerholm left NYCFC in November to sign with Malmö FF back in his native Sweden.
This is shaping up into the most comprehensive rebuilding year in NYCFC’s short history, and signing an unknown but promising young talent is on-brand for a club that has found success by taking full advantage of the City Football Group’s global scouting network.
This post will be updated as new information becomes available.