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Hungarian striker Nikolic signs with Fire as Designated Player

Nemanja Nikolic will celebrate his 29th birthday on Dec. 31 as a member of the Chicago Fire. The Fire announced today that the club has acquired the Hungarian striker via transfer from Legia Warsaw of Poland’s top division. Signed as a Designated Player, Nikolic inked a three-year deal and will be added to the Fire’s roster for the 2017 season pending receipt of his ITC and P1 Visa.

“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,” said Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez. “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 was born in Senta, Serbia. He comes to Chicago from Legia Warsaw, the defending Ekstraklasa champions. Since 2015, Nikolic has appeared in 56 league matches and scored 41 goals for The Wojskowi. Nikolic has 10 multi-goal games including hat tricks against Cracovia Krakow on Oct. 18, 2015 and most recently against Gornik Leczna on Dec. 18, 2016, his last match for the club. Nikolic finished the 2015-16 season as the league’s leading scorer, garnering him Player of the Year honors. He departs Warsaw with the most Ekstraklasa goals scored thus far this season. In European competition, 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 the Chicago Fire, from the moment the club expressed interest and especially after speaking with manager Veljko Paunovic,” said Nikolic, who is 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 176. “And although I had other offers, this is where I wanted to be.”

Prior to his move to Poland, Nikolic plied his trade in Hungary with Videoton from 2010-15, where the 28-year-old scored 87 goals in 149 league matches. The league’s top scorer in 2010, Nikolic also led his side to the Hungarian title in 2011 and 2015. Nikolic additionally scored 34 goals in 68 cup matches as Videoton captured the 2012 Hungarian League Cup and the 2011 and 2012 Hungarian Super Cups.

Nikolic spent time as a youth player with FK Senta. In 2006, he made the jump to Hungary and began his professional career with Barcs, where he scored three goals in 19 appearances. During the 2007-08 season he scored 11 goals in 14 appearances for Kaposvolgye. Nikolic added 30 goals to his career tally in 49 appearances for Kaposvar before joining Videoton in 2010.

Nikolic made his international debut for Hungary in a 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against the Netherlands on Oct. 11, 2013. He scored his first international goal three days later in a 2-0 qualifying win over Andorra. Nikolic has since scored three goals in 23 appearances for his side.

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