Chicago Fire signs Serbian midfielder Aleksandar Katai

 
 
Updated 2/6/2018 11:00 AM
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  • Midfielder Aleksandar Katai, back right, will be joining the Chicago Fire for the upcoming MLS season.

    Midfielder Aleksandar Katai, back right, will be joining the Chicago Fire for the upcoming MLS season. Associated Press/2016 file

The Chicago Fire looked overseas to rebuild its roster for the first time this off-season, signing Serbian international Aleksandar Katai on Tuesday.

Katai comes from Deportivo Alaves in Spain's La Liga on loan with an option to purchase his contract.

Katai, a 27-year-old midfielder, seems likely to replace David Accam on the wing. Accam, one of the Fire's most productive players the past three seasons, was traded to the Philadelphia Union last month.

"Aleksandar should make our attack more diversified," said Fire president and general manager Nelson Rodríguez in a statement released by the team. "He has the ability to turn a game on a single play whether it be off the dribble, with a pass or cross or even on set pieces. His desire to triumph should also fit well in our locker room."

Katai, a native of Vojvodina, Serbia, will not fill Accam's designated player slot, leaving the Fire with the money to sign a top central attacking midfielder. The Fire also needs a goalkeeper, more attacking depth and possibly a central defender for coach Veljko Paunovic.

The signing gives the Fire 22 players on its roster, though Djordje Mihailovic and Michael de Leeuw will miss the first half of the season after each suffered a torn ACL late in the 2017 season.

The Fire opens the 2018 season March 10 at home against Sporting Kansas City.

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