Nemanja Nikolić has been one of the most important players for the Chicago Fire for the past three seasons, but he won’t be returning.
The striker made the announcement on social media on Saturday, thanking the team, staff and fans for his three years with the team.
— Nikolic Nemanja (@niko_nemanja) October 12, 2019
Nikolić’s three-year tenure with the Fire was highlighted by his 2017 MLS Golden Boot. He scored 24 goals that season. He finished with 51 goals in 96 MLS regular season matches with the Fire and scored at least 12 goals in each of his three seasons with the team.
In his message, Nikolić talked about the jump across the Atlantic for him and his family.
“People were skeptical about the adventure, but the unknown challenge motivated me and, luckily, I proved quickly that my decision was right,” Nikolić wrote.
Nikolić will turn 32 in December and the Fire still have C.J. Sapong at striker, but Nikolić is a loss. Sapong, who is almost exactly a year younger than Nikolić, led the Fire with 13 goals this season.
The Fire now head into 2020 with a new owner while moving stadiums and with a lot of change at the top of the roster.
Along with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty, Nikolić has made up a trio of players that have been the Fire’s identity for the past three years. Schweinsteiger announced his retirement last week, Nikolić is departing and McCarty has a club option on his contract. The 2020 Fire will have a very different look.
Álvaro Medrán joined as a key signing last week, but the Fire still have two designated player slots open with the departures of Schweinsteiger and Nikolić.