Transfer Tracker

NYCFC sign Slovenian youth international Mitja Ilenič



New York City FC have signed right back Mitja Ilenič from Slovenian top-flight side NK Domžale through 2026 with an option for 2027, the club announced Wednesday.

The 18-year-old defender has made 32 PrvaLiga appearances, while also earning seven caps with Slovenia's U-21 side. He's the second-youngest player to represent Slovenia at that level, making his debut at the age of 17 years, two months and 27 days.

"I am delighted to welcome Mitja to New York. We are always looking to attract young talent to our club from across the world," NYCFC sporting director David Lee said in a press release.

"Despite his age, Mitja has already accumulated a significant amount of senior football experience and was one of the most highly sought-after young talents in Europe."

Ilenič debuted professionally at age 16 and has three goals to his name so far. He joins homegrowns Tayvon Gray and Andres Jasson as right backs on NYCFC's roster, giving them a youthful stable after longtime starter Anton Tinnerholm departed for Malmö FF in his native Sweden.

"I want to thank the club for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to continue my development," said Ilenič, who was described as an attack-minded right back.

"I will work hard every day to improve and contribute in any way possible. It’s an honor to be representing New York City and I look forward to playing our first game at home in front of our fans."

Ilenič's arrival comes amid a massive rebuilding period for NYCFC, who've seen most of their 2021 MLS Cup-winning squad depart in recent weeks. Five starters and several substitutes are gone from that group, including club legends Maxi Moralez and Héber.

Meanwhile, center back Alexander Callens and goalkeeper Sean Johnson are both out of contract (free agents), while midfielder Santi Rodriguez's loan from Uruguay’s Montevideo City Torque has yet to be renewed and fellow midfielder Nico Acevedo was loaned to Esporte Clube Bahia in Brazil through December 2023.