One of the top American players in Major League Soccer is moving to Europe.
First reported by Tom Bogert of MLSSoccer.com, Djordje Mihailovic is joining AZ Alkmaar during the winter transfer window on a deal through June of 2027. The Dutch club is reportedly paying CF Montréal a $6 million transfer fee with a sell-on clause. His current club remained insistent that the 23-year-old attacker stay until the end of the MLS season.
August 24, 2022
“Djordje is an attacking midfielder, with a skillful technique, good dribble, good overview and he can decide quickly in small spaces,” Alkmaar technical director Max Huiberts said in a statement. “He has also proven that he can score goals. He is a boy who is very decisive in the final phase... You would ideally like a player to be able to join immediately. We tried that too, but it was out of the question for Montreal. They are in the final phase of the competition and then play the play-offs. In the end, we came to an agreement and Djordje will be eligible to play for us at the beginning of January and perhaps he will join us earlier to train.”
Mihailovic began his professional career with the Chicago Fire after several years in the club’s academy. His tumultuous time in the Windy City was defined by displays of prodigious talent interspersed with injury issues and hints of drama. He was traded to Montreal in December of 2020, a move that reset his career’s trajectory.
Mihailovic flourished north of the border, given a more important role in the squad that has provided “a sense of importance… and responsibility.” Last season, he contributed four goals and 16 assists, being named the club’s Most Valuable Player. This year, amid ankle issues, his production has remained steady with eight goals and five assists, leading Montreal to second place in the Eastern Conference.
Alkmaar has won the Dutch Eredivisie twice, most recently in 2009. De Kaasboeren (The Cheese Farmers) are currently at sixth in the table with two wins from as many fixtures, while also appearing likely to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Europa Conference League. Manager Pascal Jansen deploys a fluid 4-3-3 formation, with firmly entrenched 24-year-old Dani de Wit currently occupying the attacking midfielder role, although Mihailovic can also slot in at winger. Mid-season transfers tend to face a bit of an adjustment struggle, but a four-and-a-half-year contract combined with the somewhat significant financial investment indicates that the club should provide every possible opportunity for the newest signing to succeed at the AZ Stadion.
Alkmaar might be familiar to followers of the USMNT. Jozy Altidore had the most productive spell of his career with the club, while briefly overlapping with Aron Jóhannsson’s tenure. From 2011 through 2013, he scored 51 goals in 93 total appearances before moving to Sunderland. As a free-moving, creative attacker, Mihailovic should theoretically enjoy a similarly smooth adaptation to the more technical Dutch game, while also developing and improving in a league at a higher level than MLS.
The move could also provide a boost at the international level. Mihailovic is a member of the United States Men’s National Team program and made his senior debut in January of 2019 in a friendly against Panama. An occasional inclusion during Gregg Berhalter’s tenure, he was named to the June training camp ahead of the CONCACAF Nations League matches but withdrew due to the aforementioned ankle injury. While enjoying success in Montreal, the 23-year-old is considered a dark horse for the upcoming World Cup roster, whose fate may become certain with the roster release for next month’s friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia.
— AZ (@AZAlkmaar) August 24, 2022
✍️ AZ contracteert @DjoMihailovic van @cfmontreal.#AZ #WelcomeDjordje
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