The Impact made a very interesting acquisition this week by getting their hands on American attacking midfielder Djordje Mihailovic, previously a member of the Chicago Fire.
To do this, the Impact’s sporting director, Olivier Renard, had to pass more than $ 800,000 in allocation money to the Fire. It may sound like a lot, but the 22-year-old has the potential to bring even more to the Impact, both on the pitch and financially.
Because Mihailovic is an obvious talent. The American coach Gregg Berhalter has seen it well, since he gave him the opportunity to represent the United States, in January 2019, when he had just turned 20.
It is revealing. Mihailovic was also named 15th on MLS ’22 under 22 list (22 best players aged 22 and under) in 2019. If he was not named to the list this year, he still remains. one of the league’s top prospects at his post.
What’s more, he already has 73 games behind the tie in MLS, despite his young age.
An undeniable offensive talent
At this point, observers are still wondering if the native of Illinois, product of the Academy of Fire, is an « eight » (middle « box to box ») or a « ten », that is – ie an attacking midfielder playing behind the attacker. He was also employed on the left wing in 2020 by coach Raphael Wicky, where he nevertheless retained the habit of cutting towards the center.
The Impact transfer window is not over, but there is a good chance that Mihailovic will be a « ten » in the system of coach Thierry Henry, considering the presence of Samuel Piette and Victor Wanyama, two players rather. defensive players who are indisputable holders of the Impact in midfield. The Impact is also well stocked on the left flank with the presence of Lassi Lappalainen and Ballou Tabla, in particular.
Anyway, one fact remains: Mihailovic is « a creative and versatile player in the offensive sector, » Renard said Thursday in an Impact statement. The young man is also endowed with good technical qualities, as evidenced by this strike which earned him the goal of the week in the fall of 2018:
Mihailovic is also the kind of player who can open up the opposing defense with just one move. His skills as a passer are undeniable:
Moreover, he is also responsible defensively, generously distributing tackles as needed. In short, he is already a fairly complete player, despite his young age.
The question that quickly comes to the mind of the discerning observer, under the circumstances, is why the Fire let such a promising player go. After all, Mihailovic was on the radar of a German club last year, with whom he even went to train in the fall of 2019.
Why, a year later, is he traded to the Montreal Impact for allocation money when he has enough potential to potentially bring in a few million in a transfer to Europe?
What happened in 2020 for Mihailovic?
The statistics are not bad. In fact, he’s had the most productive season of his career scoring two goals and seven assists in 20 appearances. The arrival of coach Raphael Wicky during the offseason left Mihailovic filled with optimism.
And then, something seems to have happened between Wicky and Mihailovic during the MLS is back return to play tournament in Orlando over the summer. In the last game of the group stage, as Chicago played its qualification for the next round, Mihailovic was left on the bench when he could normally have helped the team. Which was suspicious. A conflict between the two has been raised, but they have reportedly chosen to leave that behind and Mihailovic has returned to his regular turn in the squad for the remainder of the season.
Maybe it’s nothing. But maybe it left its mark too.
Finally, the Fire has some important players, including Alvaro Medran, Ignacio Alisedra and Gaston Gimenez (designated player) who play in the same sector as Mihailovic on the pitch. Maybe Mihailovic, who only got 14 starts in 2020, couldn’t get all the playing time his talent deserves. A problem that he will probably not have in Montreal.
It also seems that the Impact was the first team to make a real offer to the Fire in order to get it. There was also a risk that the Fire would be forced to let it go for free at the end of the 2021 season. And then the Fire, with all that allocation money received from the Impact, suddenly gave itself a much bigger margin. maneuver in terms of the salary cap.
Regardless, Mihailovic is a talented player who could bring a lot to the Impact. Here are some other things to remember:
– He suffered a torn ligament in his knee, a serious injury, at the end of the 2017 season, but he has fully recovered.
– He was the captain of the MLS academy-trained team during the 2017 All-Star Weekend.
– He scored against Panama in his first appearance with the US national team in January 2019:
– After being absent from the national team for a year, he donned the American colors last Wednesday in a friendly against El Salvador.
– Mihailovic would mainly seek to go and play in Europe. The Impact could only be a step in his career. If it explodes in Montreal, it would be surprising if it stayed in the city beyond 2022.