Player movement

Novakovich inks Reading extension and moves to Fortuna Sittard on loan

United States national team forward Anridja Novakovich is heading to the Eredivisie where he will join newly promoted Fortuna Sittard on loan from Reading FC. ASN's Brian Sciaretta chimes in with his thoughts on the move. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
June 20, 2018
6:00 AM
THERE HAVE BEEN a lot of rumors linking American players with various moves throughout Europe but U.S. national team forward Andrija Novakovich inked an extension with his parent club, Reading, and agreed to a season-long loan to Fortuna Sittard of the Eredivisie on Wednesday.

The new deal with Reading will keep him at the English club through 2020. The loan to Fortuna Sittard will run through June 2019. 

The loan is a promising development and there are several reasons why it makes sense for Novakovich.

First, Novakovich, 21, is coming off a fantastic season for FC Telstar in the Eerste Divisie – the second tier of Dutch football. In his one year for Telstar, Novakovich scored 22 goals in 38 games across all competitions. At 6’4, he dominated the league with a blend of size and strength and also a high degree of technical ability.

While Telstar was not expected to compete for promotion, Novakovich’s offensive production led the club on a run into the promotional playoffs where he came up short in the first round with a loss to De Graafschap. But his season attracted the interest of Eredivisie clubs and two call-ups to the U.S. national team.

Most importantly, this loan will keep Novakovich in the same country where he is a known player. He knows the style in Holland and has fit in well so this will be a smooth continuation of his development. The competition will obviously be much higher in the Eredivisie than the Eerste Divisie but Novakovich has clearly proven that he is ready for a step up.

Fortuna Sittard is well familiar with Novakovich too as the club was also in the second tier last year - earning automatic promotion for its first season in the Eredivisie in 16 years. 

Second, American attackers have generally thrived in the Eredivisie – far more than the English Championship. Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson, Bjorn Maars Johnsen (who was born/raised in the United States but plays for Norway), and even Juan Agudelo for a brief time all fit in nicely to the league. The English Championship, on the other hand, has been a tough league for American forwards.

Third, there has been a lot of changes at Reading since Novakovich left in the summer of 2017. Jaap Stam was the team’s manager at the time. Stam, a legend in Holland as a player and a promising manager at the youth level for two Dutch teams, helped orchestrate the loan to Reading. But Stam was fired towards the end of last season and replaced by Paul Clement.

Reading has also disappointed since Novakovich left and expectations are different. At the end of the 2016/17 season, Reading almost won promotion to the Premier League but lost in the playoff final. One year later, the club narrowly escaped relegation.

Finally, Fortuna Sittard appears to be a very good choice for Novakovich, 21, because the club had to compete hard to sign the native of Muskego, Wisconsin. The club admitted on Wednesday that there was a lot of interest throughout the Eredivisie.

"I am delighted that Andrija has chosen us", Fortuna Sittard technical director Mustafa Aztopal said. "He had an excellent season with Telstar, which meant several Eredivisie clubs wanted his signature. We have done our best to successfully get him to Sittard. Andrija believes in the project we started and has confidence in the club. With him we get a complete striker who has a good understanding of the game, is pretty fast and who is not afraid to carry out his defensive tasks. He is American international and just as ambitious as we are. I am therefore convinced that next season he will become one of the most important players in our team. Andrija already told me that he is happy to be part of Fortuna family."

Novakovich said that Fortuna Sittard won out among the competitions because it made the best pitch and made him feel that would have a big role in the upcoming season.

"There were several competitors but my choice for Fortuna is a very conscious one,” Novakovich explained. “They tried even harder than the rest to convince me. That is very trusting. I really believe in their plans for the future. Last season they have already shown where those plans can lead. Fortuna is ambitious and I am. They offer me a big stage to prove myself on a higher level.”

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