Sporting Kansas City strengthened the squad’s midfield earlier today, announcing the singing of defensive midfielder and La Liga veteran Nemanja Radoja. The 29-year-old has signed a three-year MLS contract through 2025 with an option for 2026.
After spending the last seven seasons in Spain’s top flight representing Celta Vigo and Levante, reaching some lofty heights in the process, Radoja is excited for a fresh challenge in MLS and in Kansas City.
“When I spoke with the staff from Kansas City, I saw that the personnel staff is very professional, very direct, and very honest with me,” Radoja said. “That’s when I decided to join Kansas City.”
The Novi Sad, Serbia native made 220 appearances across La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Europa League competition while in Spain, facing off against some of the world’s top players week in, week out.
Deployed as a holding midfielder throughout his career, Radoja is quick to stress that his qualities also include his ability with the ball and working hard for his teammates.
“I’m a defensive player but I want to every time help my collective team, I’m a very collective player,” he said.
Radoja tallied two goals and seven assists during his time in Spain as he anchored the midfield at Celta Vigo and Levante, notably helping Celta Vigo reach the Europa League semifinal in the 2016-17 campaign, as well as the Copa del Rey semifinal in both 2015-16 and 2016-17.
“La Liga is one of the biggest leagues in the world and I’m very happy to have spent many years in that league,” he said. “For me it was a very good experience, everything about the football and everything about the life, the country, it’s very nice and the clubs where I played were of a very high level. It’s very professional and I can only say good things about La Liga and about the country.”
Now embarking on a new journey, Radoja admits he has much to learn about MLS as a league, but he’s spoken to friends who play in the United States – including a familiar face to Sporting KC fans.
“I haven’t seen too much of the league, MLS, but I have friends who play in MLS and before I knew that Kansas City wanted me, I spoke with my friends and I only heard very, very good things about the league and the country,” he said. “I spoke with (Andreu) Fontas, he told me everything about the club, it’s perfect. He told me about training camp, fans, staff and about the club, it’s very, very good.”
Radoja and Fontas spent four seasons together shoring up the Celta Vigo backline from 2014-2018, right up until Fontas elected to join Sporting KC in the summer of 2018. While the pair have spent the last four years separated by the Atlantic Ocean, Radoja is looking forward to catching up with an old friend.
“I had a great relationship with Fontas,” Radoja said. “He’s a very, very good player. You maybe know better than me now, he plays very well with the ball and with his left foot.”
Sporting KC won’t begin preseason for the 2023 campaign until January, but Radoja is already eager and motivated to make an impact with his new club as he heads to what is, for him, a destination unknown.
“I’ve never been (to the United States), this will be my first time in this country,” he said. “I’m very excited to be in America, this is something new for me and a big challenge for me also in a new league and new country.”