Djordje Mihailovic’s time with the Chicago Fire appears to be over.
The Athletic reported today the Fire have agreed to deal Mihailovic to the Montreal Impact for $800,000 in General Allocation Money, which could hit $1 million with performance incentives.
At this point, there’s been no official announcement from the Fire. While the trade itself isn’t a big surprise—it’s looked like Mihailovic has been on the way out for awhile now—the amount the Fire are getting in return is a pleasant surprise.
Mihailovic, who grew up playing for his father’s local club, and later played for the Chicago Fire Academy, has been with the first team since 2017.
It’s a move that seems to make sense for both the player and the Fire. Mihailovic, who has been angling for a move to a European club, gets a fresh start under Montreal coach Thierry Henry, a chance to prove he’s a star, and reportedly a major pay increase, too. The Fire get a huge chunk of money that could should help them bring in more quality players, and could potentially open up a new Designated Player spot to bring in a true, big-time star the club is lacking.
Mihailovic had a rocky 2020 for Chicago. He was benched at the MLS is Back tournament, for what head coach Raphael Wicky called at the time a “technical, tactical decision.” Wicky later admitted it was something more:
“It was very important that we had this conversation with him or I had this conversation with him,” Wicky said after the tournament. “During the tournament we spoke a lot but then also in the end and turned the page and we both said, let’s restart, let’s forget about that. I’m not a person if you do something or something that happened, I will not hold that against you for the whole time.
“For me it was important to see a reaction. And I see that. I see that in training, and that’s a positive because like I always say, Djordje is a good player. He can become an important player for this club. He wants to be an important player for this club and that’s why I ask for a reaction and he gave me that, or he gives me that, and now we have to keep doing that.”
Wicky eventually began selecting Mihailovic as a starter again. He scored the game-tying goal against Sporting Kansas City in the dying minutes of a match at Soldier Field in October, and finished the season by earning a call up to the United States Men’s National Team in December.
Earlier this month, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter told Hot Time Mihailovic’s mentality is the key to his long term success.
“Djordje’s the type of player that, he’s as good as he sets his mind to, because he has fantastic talent, and it’s more about him just applying his talent,” Berhalter said.
It’s clear Mihailovic has a ton of talent and potential. It’s unclear why he hasn’t broken through with enough consistent performances to reach his potential. Perhaps a bit of time away from home at a new club will finally do the trick.