As Toronto FC academy product Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty prepares for the 2022 season, his agent advises some of Europe’s biggest clubs are tracking him.
A couple of months ago, we wrote about reports that Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty had been training in England, with Arsenal and Liverpool. In truth this wasn’t much of a surprise, given the Toronto FC academy product is considered one of the best young talents in world football.
The potential surrounding Marshall-Rutty is significant. He was the youngest homegrown player to sign with TFC at just 15, when he agreed a six-year deal in Jan. 2020.
The Brampton, Ontario native also became the youngest ever player to be called up to Canada’s senior team, albeit he has yet to make his full international debut. Now his agent, Mike Senkowski, has made it clear Europe is watching closely.
As reported by TSN‘s Matthew Scianitti, Senkowski advised Liverpool, Arsenal and Club Brugge of Belgium — who Marshall-Rutty also trained with — will all be tracking his client this season. Further, one of the three clubs was apparently ready to make an offer for the young talent.
Senkowski went on to explain the reason nothing has come to fruition yet, is due to TFC head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley wanting to work closely with Marshall-Rutty this season. As per TSN, Senkowski said:
"“Bob [Bradley] has been terrific with Jahkeele, so that helps for a young talent to focus on his current environment. [Former Toronto FC head coach Greg] Vanney gave him the encouragement and feeling, but [Bradley] has given this as well, along with opportunity and readiness to play.”"
As we’ve written before, one of the keys to Bradley’s consistent success comes from his attention to players on an individual and personal level, particularly the younger ones. He is genuinely interested in getting to know them and help improve their game.
Marshall-Rutty is fully appreciative and respectful of the effort and dedication his head coach puts in. As per James Grossi of TFC’s official website, Marshall-Rutty said on Tuesday:
"“He’s always trying to give me advice. He’s coached in Europe, he’s coached national teams, he’s coached other teams in America, so the advice he could give, I just try to take and learn.”"
Aside from Bradley’s passion and willingness to work with Marshall-Rutty, there is probably more to why the European club Senkowski is referencing, has yet to make an offer. More specifically, his age.
As previously noted by Tom Bogert of Mlssoccer.com, Marshall-Rutty does not turn 18 until June and doesn’t hold a European Union passport. As such, serious talks about any potential deal are unlikely to happen until this coming summer at the earliest anyway.
Adding another aspect to this situation, is that the 17-year-old is learning a new position. Used to lining up as a winger, he has been playing as a right fullback during preseason.
In some respects this was a necessity for TFC, after losing several established fullbacks for a variety of reasons. From Marshall-Rutty’s perspective, he has welcomed the challenge and mentioned the likes of Alphonso Davies and Richie Laryea, who similarly converted to fullback from other positions.
In terms of previously playing on the wing, Marshall-Rutty sees some similarities at fullback which have helped him with the transition. As per Grossi, he said:
"“To be honest, I feel like in modern day football the adjustment from winger to full-back isn’t that different. The way we play, sometimes I find myself out wide like I would as a winger.”"
The main challenge for Marshall-Rutty has been adjusting to the defensive side of the game. However, he has embraced this, in large part helped by his enjoyment for running and understanding that being more versatile helps make him a better player.
As per TSN, Toronto FC values the Canadian talent at $20 million, but would like to keep hold of him for now. How long this is remains to be seen, especially if he continues to improve and see his value increase.
For now though, the Reds will have the benefit of a player dedicated to doing everything possible to improve himself. As per Grossi, Marshall-Rutty said:
"“I’ve been working on my whole game, confidence wise, my body – as a young player, the pro game is a lot more physical. A lot of different pieces, my passing, my weak foot. I’m always trying to get better.”"
What kind of season do you predict Marhshall-Rutty will have? Further, how long do you believe Toronto FC can keep hold of him before Europe comes calling again? Let us know in the comments section below.