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Mihajlovic The Latest Impact Arrival....

Benefits All Round, as Renard & Henry Get Serious...

Chicago Fire FC v FC Cincinnati
Djordje Mihailovic (left), the latest to enter the busy arrivals lounge at Stade Saputo...
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Following hot on the heels of the Kamal Miller signing, Montreal Impact yesterday secured the signature of 22-year-old US international, Djordje Mihailovic from Chicago Fire in return for potentially up to $1m in GAM and TAM money, dependent on performances.

Mihailovic is the third international player to arrive in Montreal in recent weeks.

“We’re really happy with the acquisition of this young American international player that fits in our sporting project,” said Montreal Impact sporting director Olivier Renard. “We add to the roster a creative and versatile player in the attacking department.”

In four seasons with the Fire, Mihailovic played 73 games, including 45 starts in regular season, scoring seven goals and adding 15 assists. He also played one MLS playoff game as a starter in 2017. Mihailovic was a Homegrown signed by Chicago from their academy in January 2017.

But the trade looks like a move that can benefit all parties. The Impact gain a new, young player fitting the profile Olivier Renard seeks for the club. It’s been an open secret in Chicago that Mihailovic favours a move to Europe, so if performances match the optimism surrounding this announcement, the American is a player that Montreal could enjoy, then profit from.

FBL-CAN-MLS-MONTREAL-HENRY
The acquisition of Mihailovic is bang in line with Olivier Renard’s (above) vision for the club.
Photo by SEBASTIEN ST-JEAN/AFP via Getty Images

He is the type of creative player the Impact midfield has lacked in recent seasons. Clearly the talent and ability is there, but as U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter told Hot Time in Old Town recently, 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.

There has been a prevailing feeling in Chicago where Mihailovic’s talent and potential is appreciated, that he hasn’t produced consistent enough performances yet to enable realization of his potential.

Perhaps the move to a new club - he’s been at Chicago for just under a decade - will be the catalyst in propelling Mihailovic towards meeting his undoubted promise.

The move is also good for the player, who gets the opportunity for a fresh start and will relish the prospect of playing under Thierry Henry.

His 2020 season was less than plain-sailing after being benched at the MLS-is-Back tournament for an altercation which head coach at the time Raphael Wicky filed under ‘technical, tactical decision.’ Wicky later admitted there was more to it, but the pair later settled their differences.

The Fire can see plus points as well. They will receive a pretty significant chunk of money that may go towards opening up a new DP spot, or at least enable the acquisition of some quality players.

Mihailovic was entering the final year of his contract with Chicago, so when the decision was taken not to bring him back next season, club and player worked swiftly to find a suitable destination for the player. Understandably the Fire didn’t want to risk losing him on a free transfer after the 2021 season.

SOCCER: JUN 05 USA v Jamaica
Mihailovic in the colours of the US-MNT during a friendly against Jamaica in Washington DC.June 2019.
Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

And also, if Mihailovic is ever sold to a club outside MLS, Chicago will retain 10 percent of the fee.

The 22-year-old brings an element to the club that has been off-radar to Impact supporters for several seasons now.

Another aspect of this transfer is the need for Montreal to acquire other players to bring out and complement, the creative strengths in Mihailovic’s game.

Indicators so far suggest this close-season could be intensely more interesting than the turbulent season just ended, with the Renard/Henry double-act looking like it’s about to hit full-swing.