TRANSFER_16x9-Djordje-Mihailovic-to-AZ

TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Transfer

CF Montréal have agreed to transfer star midfielder Djordje Mihailovic to Dutch Eredivisie club AZ Alkmaar, effective for January 2023 when the winter transfer window opens in Europe, the clubs announced Wednesday.

The deal will be more than $6 million (including add-ons), as reported by ESPN's Jeff Carlisle, a new club-record transfer for Montréal. The Canadian club would also retain a sell-on clause.

MLSsoccer.com first reported Mihailovic would miss Montréal's eventual 4-0 win Saturday over the New England Revolution as he traveled to complete his medical ahead of the AZ move.

Chicago Fire FC will receive 10% of the transfer fee, as they retained that sell-on clause from Mihailovic's trade from Chicago to Montréal ahead of the 2021 MLS season. A source adds that money can be converted to allocation money.

“This is a very exciting moment for me, but also sad, knowing that I will be leaving CF Montréal,” Mihailovic said in a release. “When I joined this team from Chicago, I didn't expect this kind of reception. I want to thank the fans for their support. It has been an incredible experience.

"I would also like to thank Oliver [Renard], Vassili [Cremanzidis], Joey [Saputo] and Gabriel [Gervais] for their understanding; Europe has always been my dream and they gave me the chance to pursue this new path in my career. But it's not over yet! This season we have the opportunity to do something special for the club and the city.”

Leveling up

Mihailovic, 23, has been a revelation with Montréal, tallying 11 goals and 20 assists across 54 games (50 starts). He has been a star under head coach Wilfried Nancy, after beginning his career as a homegrown with the Fire, where he scored seven goals and added 14 assists in 73 regular-season appearances.

Montréal were intent on keeping Mihailovic through the season, as the club currently sits second in the Eastern Conference standings. The attacker was in the 2022 Landon Donovan MLS MVP conversation earlier in the season prior to getting injured, which also kept him out of the US men's national team's June camp.

“I want to thank Djordje for believing in our project and choosing to come to Montréal to showcase his immense potential. We also want to thank him for everything he achieved on the field since his arrival, but also for wanting to continue the season with us to try to go as far as possible,” Renard, the club's VP and chief sporting officer, said in a release.

“Europe has been his dream for many years, and I am happy we can contribute to his career objectives. This agreement is a good fit for Djordje. It is a club he wanted to be a part of and where his qualities and style of play can be fully realized.”

Eredivisie platform

Mihailovic could be one of the most expensive AZ Alkmaar signings of all time. The Dutch club is on the cusp of qualifying for this season's UEFA Conference League, the third continental competition behind the Champions and Europa Leagues. They won both of their league games to start the season and finished in fifth place last year.

The Eredivisie is a league known for cultivating attacking talent, with a penchant for goals. The only time USMNT legend Michael Bradley scored more than five goals in a single league campaign was his time in the Netherlands, scoring 15 goals for Heerenveen in 2007-08. Jozy Altidore's most productive season also came in the Netherlands, with 23 goals in 2012-13 with AZ.

Mihailovic is also the latest MLS export in Holland. He joins Colorado Rapids midfielder Cole Bassett (on loan at Fortuna Sittard) and former San Jose Earthquakes left back Marcos Lopez (transferred to Feyenoord). There's also one-time Real Salt Lake academy midfielders Taylor Booth (Utrecht) and Richie Ledezma (PSV) in the Eredivisie.

He may not be the last player Montréal move on to Europe in the near future, with rising Canadian international midfielder Ismael Kone subject to interest from clubs. Montréal reportedly agreed to a deal with English Championship side Norwich City earlier this summer, but Kone said the move fell through.