Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
A member of the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team has decided to bypass college to play in England.
Midfielder Andrija Novakovich has signed his first professional contract with Reading FC, joining the English Championship club following a two-week trial last month. The 17-year-old Wisconsin native had signed a letter of intent to play for Marquette University next year but passed it up after being offered a contract to join Reading’s academy.
Novakovich, who was noticed by U.S. Soccer after playing for U.S. Developmental Academy club team Chicago Magic PSG, has represented the U.S. Under-17s and U-18s on a number of occasions in the last 12 months. Novakovich featured for the U-17s in Niigata International Tournament in Japan in July 2013 before moving up to the U-18s for the 2013 Milk Cup and Limoges Tournament.
Novakovich will join fellow American Danny Williams when he arrives at Reading.
Last February, U.S. U-18 head coach Javier Perez included Novakovich in his squad for the Copa Del Atlantico, and following the tournament, Novakovich went on a trial with Fulham before going on trial with Reading.
Novakovich’s move to England was expedited because his mother was born in England while his father was born in a part of Yugoslavia that is now in Serbia. Novakovich graduated from high school early as well.
Novakovich isn’t the only U-18 player set to move to Europe. According to Dembakwi Yomba’s official Twitter profile, the 17-year-old Georgia native has agreed terms with Atletico Madrid.
The deal has yet to be confirmed by the Atletico madrid and Yomba likely can’t officially join the club until he turns 18 years old due to FIFA transfer rules.
Yomba most recently played for the U-18s at the Copa Del Atlantico along with Novakovich and is a former member of the U.S. U-17s. Yomba is a product of the Georgia-based club Concorde Fire.
What do you think of this news? Glad to see another American prospect head to Europe? Think he has a chance of eventually breaking into the first team? Worried about losing him to England’s or Serbia’s youth national programs?
Share your thoughts below.