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Nikolic says goodbye to Chicago in latest signal of Fire rebuild

Nemanja Nikolic, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Michael de Leeuw

Chicago Fire forward Nemanja Nikolic, center, celebrates with midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, left, and forward Michael de Leeuw after scoring his second goal against the Colorado Rapids, during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Bridgeview, Ill. The Fire won 3-0. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)


Nemanja Nikolic’s time in Chicago has ended, judging by the Hungarian forward’s long-winded farewell letter to the Chicago Fire franchise and its fans.

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Nikolic was hugely productive in his three seasons in the Windy City, bagging 51 goals in 96 games regular-season games, winning the 2017 Golden Boot (24 goals in his debut season) and becoming the team’s second-leading goalscorer in the process.

When a period of time is intense, if you concentrate and perform on daily basis, time passes by quickly. It was a massive three years for me and my family. When I look at the memories I had in Chicago, I realize the huge amount of action that happened to me in the U.S. It was a big jump. We went far from home. A new language and a new environment. Different schools for the kids - and our third child has born. People were skeptical about the adventure, but the unknown challenge motivated me and, luckily, I proved quickly that my decision was right and I could keep the standards I had at Videoton and then at Legia.

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!

Nikolic’s departure is a clear and obvious example of a team and a player’s respective timelines failing to match up with one another. Nikolic, who’s 31, has but a precious few seasons of productivity; meanwhile, the Fire, who are set to move to downtown Chicago next season and finished 10th and 8th in the Eastern Conference the last two seasons, desperately need to get younger and shed some sizable contracts — one of which is Nikolic’s $1.7 million base salary.

Follow @AndyEdMLS