TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Transfer
The Philadelphia Union have transferred Homegrown center back Mark McKenzie to Belgium's K.R.C Genk, the club announced Thursday.
The deal includes a multi-million-dollar transfer fee, as well as additional performance-based bonuses. The Union will also retain a percentage of any future transfer fees for McKenzie. The deal makes the Union the first MLS team to complete two multi-million-dollar transfers for Homegrown players within a year.
It follows Homegrown midfielder Brenden Aaronson's historic move to Red Bull Salzburg in October, which was effective Jan. 1.
MLSsoccer.com's Tom Bogert previously reported the deal for McKenzie is in the region of $6 million plus performance-based add-ons. Philly will retain a sell-on percentage in any future transfer of McKenzie. The Union rejected a bid from Scottish club Celtic for McKenzie for a much lesser value over the summer.
“This is the right step for both Mark and for the club, as our young talent continues to make strides within our organization,” Union sporting director Ernst Tanner said in a statement. “With two record transfers over the past few months, it further solidifies our belief in our ideology of developing young players through our academy with an end goal of producing mature, intelligent athletes like Mark who are capable of leading us to trophies and competing against the very best in the world. We are so proud of Mark and the winning mentality he brings to every match and training session and we know he will continue that at Genk, which gives him every opportunity to reach all of his goals.”
The 21-year-old center back signed a Homegrown deal with the Union ahead of the 2018 season and made 46 starts in 48 regular season appearances. McKenzie is coming off his best professional season, helping lead Philadelphia to the Supporters' Shield, earning MLS Best XI honors and was the runner up for MLS Defender of the Year.
“Before working towards my goal of playing in Europe, I remember sitting in the stands watching my home team, the Union, and hoped that one day I’d get the chance to play for my city in front of my family, friends, and fans. I am so thankful to have been given the chance to do so,” McKenzie said in a statement. “I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am and have this opportunity to further my career without my coaches, my family, and the Philadelphia Union fans. I am so appreciative to everyone who has dedicated their time, knowledge, love and put their faith in me. I specifically want to thank God, my family, the club, and the city. The city and the Union will always be a part of me, and the future looks nothing but bright for myself and this club.”
McKenzie has one senior-team appearance with the US men’s national team and captained the US at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Genk are currently second in the Belgian Pro League, one point behind Club Brugge, and consistently compete for a spot in the UEFA Champions League or Europa League.
“We are very proud of Mark and his achievements over his three professional seasons with the Union and during his time at our academy,” Union principal owner Jay Sugarman said in a statement. “Player development, specifically within our academy and youth organizations, is a core pillar of our long-term strategy and Mark’s journey is one we hope will inspire many others in our academy pipeline. The past five years of investment have enabled us to build a growing reputation for developing young players and our two recent homegrown transfers show our commitment to helping players reach their full potential. I wish Mark all the best at K.R.C Genk and I know he will make the Union and the city of Philadelphia proud as he continues his journey.”