December 20, 2016
Fire acquire Polish league's leading scorer
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire have acquired Hungarian striker Nemanja Nikolic via transfer from Legia Warsaw of Poland, the team announced Tuesday.
Nikolic, who led the Ekstraklasa in scoring last season, signed a three-year deal as a Designated Player.
“Through this transfer, we have secured a champion in his prime, and one of the most prolific goal scorers in Europe over the last few years,” Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said. “In addition to his on-field talents, Nemanja is a fantastic person. His relentless pursuit of victory and goals is certain to make him a fan favorite.”
Nikolic scored 41 goals in 56 league matches, Legia winning the Ekstraklasa championship last season. Nikolic has 10 multi-goal games, including hat tricks against Cracovia Krakow on Oct. 18, 2015 and against Gornik Leczna on Dec. 18, his last match for the club. Nikolic was named the the league’s Player of the Year last season and leads the Ekstraklasa in scoring this season. Nikolic scored six goals in eight UEFA Champions League appearances and two goals in 10 Europa League matches.
“I am very happy to be joining Chicago Fire,” Nikolic said in a release. “From the moment the club expressed interest and especially after speaking with manager Veljko Paunovic, and although I had other offers, this is where I wanted to be.’’
Nikolic, 28, played with Videoton from 2010-15, scoring 87 goals in 149 league matches, leading the league in 2010 and winning the Hungarian title in 2011 and 2015. Nikolic scored 34 goals in 68 cup matches as Videoton captured the 2012 Hungarian League Cups and the 2011 and 2012 Hungarian Super Cups.
Nikolic, born in Senta, Serbia, played for FK Senta youth teams, then began his professional career with Barcs in Hungary, scoring three goals in 19 appearances in 2006. During the 2007-08 season, Nikolic scored 11 goals in 14 appearances for Kaposvolgye. Nikolic added 30 goals in 49 appearances for Kaposvar.
Nikolic made his international debut for Hungary in a World Cup Qualifier against the Netherlands on Oct. 11, 2013. He scored his first international goal in a 2-0 qualifying win over Andorra Oct. 14, 2013. Nikolic has scored three goals in 23 international appearances.