Skip to Content

Get to Know Cavan Sullivan, the USA Wonderkid Linked to Man City Transfer

Get to Know Cavan Sullivan, the USA Wonderkid Linked to Man City Transfer

Manchester City have earned a reputation for ‘staying ahead of the curve’ by signing quality young talents when they’re still raw. Well, it appears that the Premier League champions have earmarked a new teenage sensation from the US Soccer scene in Cavan Sullivan to have the potential to excel for them in the future.

Sullivan, a small 5’1’ attacking midfielder, is already earning major plaudits at the age of 14. He has reportedly earned interest from the likes of Bayer Munich and Real Madrid. But Manchester City have apparently won the race to sign him from Philadelphia Union and could pay a fee that ends up being as high as £4 million for the teenager.

Now, the US attacking midfielder can’t exactly join the Citizens before he turns 18 (in 2027) because of the new-set rules for signing young players from foreign teams. But there is enough evidence that backs up the interest from Pep Guardiola’s team for a 14-year-old playing in the USA.

For one, Sullivan has already been hailed as ‘the best 14-year-old footballer in the world’. He has earned comparisons to the likes of Lionel Messi and Kevin de Bruyne for his highly exciting playing style. The 14-year-old excels in the no.10 position, but can also operate in a no.8 role and looks comfortable operating in a central midfield area.

A slick left-footed attacking midfielder, Sullivan caught Man City’s eyes in his heroics for the USA under-15 sides’ 2-2 draw against England under-15s last April in a friendly tournament in Spain. He scored both goals in that game and impressed the Cityzens’ head of academy recruitment Sam Fagbemi. Fagbemi, like many other scouts present, was won over by Sullivan’s ball control ability, along with his confident playing style and ruthlessness in the final third.

Sources at Man City’s academy believe that Sullivan will become the first MLS player to make his debut at the age of 15 (which he turns in September). The teenager has already made his debut for Philadelphia Union’s reserve team providing an assist in their MLS Next Pro win over New England Revolution II in March.

Despite his 5’1 height and seemingly small physique, Sullivan is not one to back down from a fight. One source close to him describes the 14-year-old’s attitude as: “He was running through adult men three times his size in Tampa. That’s real. He’s not fake tough. He’s fearless.”

Philadelphia Union II’s coach Marlon LeBlanc also purred about the quality he sees in Cavan, reflecting his thoughts on the youngster by explaining: “Cavan is a fantastic young talent, dare I tease him that I’ve never seen a kid develop as much as I’ve seen Cavan, He’s got his feet on the ground, all this extra hype about him. It doesn’t go to his head and I think that’s the fantastic thing about him. It’s what also allows him to come into our environment and still be cool and be bold.”

Sullivan actually comes from a football-crazy family that has many decades-long connections to the beautiful game. Born in North Philadelphia before moving to Norristown as a youngster, Cavan was motivated to take up football by his family members.

He is one of four brothers, with his eldest brother Quinn Sullivan currently playing for Philadelphia Union and having represented the USMNT at youth levels. His two other brothers, Ronan and Declan – are also aspiring footballers who are yet to match the reputation of Cavan or Quinn.

The 14-year-old comes from a well-to-do family that prioritizes soccer over any other American sport. His father Brendan and mother Heike Sullivan both used to play football at their youth levels. Brendan is now a coach, while Heike works in a law firm. But it’s Brendan, currently also acting as his representative, who is key in pushing him to the top.

Cavan’s parents have earned praise from Philadelphia Union’s head coach Jim Curtin for the way they’ve raised their kids, as he told Backheeled: “It’s always tricky because, naturally, like formerly with the Aaronsons, everybody wants to compare and contrast who does what better than who, but all four of them are unique and bring different skill sets in the game. Brendan and Heike have done an amazing job raising four great kids first and foremost, which is always the most important thing.”

Brendan got Cavan enrolled into the Philadelphia Union youth academy at the age of 11 in July, 2020. But the attacking midfielder really started to soar after his heroics with the US Men’s under-national team.

He’s scored five goals in nine appearances for them and most prominently won the Golden Ball Award (best player award) in the CONCACAF U-15 Championship last year.  The 14-year-old wore the no.17 jersey for the USA U-15 side, while he has been given the no.99 for the Philadelphia Union II side this season.  That’s mostly because nobody imagined a 14-year-old breaking into a reserve side so early in his life.

Cavan played an influential role in helping the United States side win the CONCACAF championship and excelled in the final against Mexico. This came after his heroics against England under-15s in Spain and immediately aroused more interest from teams like Manchester City.

A valuable advantage that Cavan Sullivan also holds over other aspiring young United States footballers is that he already has the credentials to play football in Europe. That is because he also has a German passport thanks to his mother, who is of German ancestry. That passport will allow him to easily get the working license needed to play in England for Manchester City once he turns 18.

Interestingly, that means Cavan can actually represent Germany at the international level if he wants instead of the USMNT too. In fact, the 14-year-old actually also has a Bangladeshi heritage with his grandmother being a Bangladeshi citizen – which means he can also play for the Bangladesh national team – albeit that being extremely unlikely.

For now, Cavan Sullivan won’t get the hype get to him. Even though a move to Manchester City seems to be on the horizon, he still has lots to do to tap into his ultimate potential. For one, that includes improving his physical stature to sustain himself in Europe and also further honing his attributes. The 14-year-old will be determined to be the golden boy of his generation and if he can maintain his discipline, he might as well be the next big thing to take the USMNT to greater heights in the next few decades.