18-year-old Barça Residency Academy winger Emmanuel “EJ” Johnson has signed his first professional contract with Scottish club, Hibernian FC. A three-and-a-half year deal that will initially send Johnson to American side, Charleston Battery on loan for their upcoming 2022 USL Championship campaign, Johnson will then return to Hibernian subject to work permit approval.
“This is where our partnership with Charleston really comes to the fore,” said Head of Recruitment Ian Gordon on Johnson’s loan move. “It allows us to recruit young, talented players for our Development Squad from different parts of the globe and provide them with a high level of coaching and a competitive games program, as we sort out their work permits.”
“Excited to start my journey in Charleston let’s go!” said Johnson on his recent Instagram post.
The Northern California native joined Barça Residency Academy in August of 2021. Barca’s Academy Director and U-19 Head Coach Ged Quinn knew immediately that Johnson had next-level talent. “He is an extremely powerful, athletic, and technical player and has shown in the short space of time with us that he has the ability to go on and play at the professional level,” said Quinn.
In October, Johnson trialed with Hibernian in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Johnson’s stint at Hibernian made signing with the club a no-brainer when the offer came. “The atmosphere and hospitality of Hibernian, how they embraced me, their willingness to train me and speak with me during the trial,” are some aspects that resonated with Johnson.
“We can see him playing in a number of different positions,” said Hibernian Academy Director Steve Kean. “He could certainly play wing back, attacking full back or be a ball-playing centerback. Having that adaptability, with his power, pace and technical level, made him a real stand out youngster.”
Before inking his first professional contract with Hibernian, Johnson was verbally committed to the University of California, Berkley to continue his education and further his playing career.
“Ej has been a tremendous asset to our academy since joining us this past fall season,” said Quinn. “It is no surprise that he had a number of clubs chasing his services and I am sure his strengths on the field will allow him to flourish with Hibernian in the SPL. We look forward to tracking EJ’s future success in Europe and wish him the best of luck with this next step in his career.”
Johnson previously spent time with Northbay Elite FC and Sacramento Republic prior to joining Barça Residency Academy. Johnson accredits Barça Residency Academy for being the catalyst that turned his lifelong dream into reality. “Man! The Barca family is like no other… I want you all to know that my journey wouldn’t have been possible without my time at Barca, I am eternally grateful,” Johnson concluded.