TORONTO, Canada—Toronto FC may have the next Canadian sensation in their ranks. Last week, a report from Goal.com suggested that both Manchester United and Manchester City, Bayern Munich, and FC Porto are keeping tabs on Reds’ youngster Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty. Waking the Red has been told that FC Barcelona have also shown serious interest for the promising attacker.
After joining the Toronto FC academy at the age of 10, Marshall-Rutty, 16, graduated through the ranks to become the youngest player to sign a professional contract with Toronto FC II in June 2019, going on to make three appearances in USL League 1.
In January 2020, he’d follow that up by signing a homegrown contract with the first team, making the Brampton, Ontario native the youngest senior signing in club history.
The accolades don’t stop there, however. On October 25, at just 16 years and 132 days of age, Marshall-Rutty would make his MLS debut against the Philadelphia Union, becoming the youngest red to ever make an appearance for the club.
On the national stage, Marshall-Rutty is also stealing headlines. This past January, he became the youngest player ever called into a men’s national team camp, surpassing who else but Alphonso Davies’ incredible feat.
When the Reds signed the youngster to a homegrown contract, General Manager Ali Curtis stated that the up-and-coming Canadian had interest from top European clubs at the time.
“He had interest from many top clubs in Europe,” said Curtis in a press release. “It’s important that we are both patient and aggressive with Jahkeele’s development, but he has the potential to be an incredible player moving forward. We’re also very proud of Jahkeele as he’s done a lot to get to this moment. Happy for Jahkeele, happy for his family, and we are excited about working with Jahkeele moving forward.”
This week, Waking the Red asked new Toronto FC head coach Chris Armas about the interest hovering around the young teenager and what role he expects Marshall-Rutty to play this season. Here’s what he had to say:
“You can easily see why he can draw interest from top teams around the world. He’s 16 years old, he’s an intelligent player, he’s quick in his mind, he’s quick with his feet. His personality and nature he’s a competitor, but he’s a team guy—he’s got such good starting points. His feet don’t get in the way, you know, his feet can do what the brain is (thinking)—they’re connected there. Again, it goes back to when you talk about young players and often times it’s the mentality. Some young guys that you see out there, they show up like they’ve arrived. Michael Bradley never arrives, you know what I mean? He’s not going to arrive, although he’s been there right? I think he’s got a really good chance to do well for himself. He’s got some good mentors around him, some good leaders to watch and learn from, and we will help him along the way, but he’s off to a good start. We can play him in any of the attacking spots underneath; he does well in between gaps. He’s dangerous when he’s on the ball. So, part of it is that he can physically do those things and then he combines it with a nice intelligence. So yeah, I think he can play in those attacking midfield spots—any of those interior midfielders. We’ve used him underneath like a No. 10, so. He’s a bright, young talent, that’s for sure.”
Last season, Marshall-Rutty managed to get his toes wet in MLS, totalling just 18 minutes of game-action in his rookie year. This year, we’re hoping to see plenty more of our promising homegrown talent.
For what it’s worth, FIFA rules would not make a transfer possible until Marshall-Rutty turns 18. If the Canadian continues to develop the way TFC hope and expect him too, especially with the Armas hire, it would be all but certain that the youngster will be plying his trade in Europe the moment its possible for him to do so.