After three strong seasons, Nemanja Nikolic is leaving the Chicago Fire

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 08: Chicago Fire forward Nemanja Nikolic (23) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in action during a game between the Chicago fire and the New England Revolution on May 8, 2019 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

CHICAGO – As the team enters a new era in 2020, they’ll have to do it without one of their most prolific goal scorers in team history.

Nemanja Nikolic announced in a letter on Twitter that he will not return to the Chicago Fire next season.

“Without the TEAM — and my fantastic teammates — this adventure could not have been such an amazing fairytale. Big thanks to all the Fire staff members I have worked with during my time in Chicago,” said Nikolic in his announcement. “And last but not least, the Fire supporters! The sport is for YOU. And YOU deserve the best. From day one, YOU have made me feel at home. Your friendship and support made this period special. YOU will always be a big part of my life.

“YOU are great. It was a pleasure playing for YOU and fighting for success. I wish YOU a bright and happy future!”

It brings an end to an incredible trio of seasons for the striker in which he scored 51 goals in 96 games since joining the club in 2017 from Legia Warsaw. That’s good enough for second in the history of the Fire franchise, trailing only Ante Razov, who had 76 goals in 155 games.

Nikolic had his best performance in his first year with the club, leading the MLS in goals with 24 to earn the league’s Golden Boot. His contributions helped the Fire make the playoffs for the first time since the 2012 season.

In 2018, Nikolic led the team against as he registered 15 goals for the club. He tallied 12 this past season, second behind CJ Sapong’s team-leading 13 goals.

This is the second major departure for the Fire since the end of their season, with defender Bastian Schweinsteiger announcing his retirement from soccer last Tuesday.

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