American Andrija Novakovich Enjoying Strong Spell In Italy's Serie B

The towering striker has helped power Frosinone to second in the table.

Wisconsin native Andrija Novakovich is in the midst of an impressive run of form at the moment in Italy's Serie B. When it became apparent that his future was not at Championship side Reading, where he had spent five years, Novakovich shunned apparent interest from Germany's VfL Bochum and Dutch side PEC Zwolle for a deadline-day move to Frosinone in September.

The 23-year-old returned to Reading this summer on the back of two impressive seasons in the Netherlands. He spent 2017-18 on loan at second-division side FC Telstar, powering the side to a promotion playoff where it fell just short of the jump to the Eredivisie. Novakovich finished the season as the second-top goalscorer in the division with 19 and also scored in each leg of the promotion playoff. 

Ahead of the 2018-19 season, he moved on loan to Fortuna Sittard, which had been promoted to the top flight in the Netherlands after a second-place finish in the second tier behind Ajax's U-21 side. He enjoyed another productive season, finishing as the top scorer in a struggling Sittard side with nine league goals and 11 overall. Novakovich put in impressive displays against Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord, scoring in a narrow 2-1 defeat to the former and providing the assist for the go-ahead goal in a huge upset away at Feyenoord's De Kuip. 

It looked as if he may finally have secured a chance to shine at Reading, but despite an impressive preseason in which he scored against Spanish side Sevilla, he found himself on the periphery. Manager Jose Gomes brought in three new forwards, including George Puscas, an $8.8-million arrival from Inter Milan. Novakovich scored a hat trick in a victory for the U-23 side against Newcastle, but ultimately it was not enough to stop his fall down the pecking order. 

After a somewhat slow start to life in Italy, adapting to the different style of play to what he was used to in Holland, Novakovich has hit form in recent weeks. In his last three appearances he has scored twice and assisted another three goals and now has three goals and a team-high seven assists on the season. He notched the winner with a late header against Salernitana and just days later assisted both goals in a 2-2 draw away to Livorno. 

In a recent interview with Brian Sciaretta of American Soccer Now, Novakovich commented on his start to life in Serie B.

"It is so much different than in Holland," he said. "In Italy, everyone knows it's more defense-minded and that is one of the reasons I wanted to come here. I want to improve my game and I figured I can come to a country where defending is so valuable and one of the most popular ways of playing.

"I would like to have scored more goals by now, but I can't say I'm upset or angry at the way I'm playing. I'm playing very well. And I'm confident in myself that they will come."

Novakovich has helped Frosinone to second in the table, with a one-point advantage on Crotone for the last automatic promotion spot. Alessandro Nesta's side is currently the in-form team in the division, having taken 16 points from its last six games. Novakovich is establishing himself as a critical player for Frosinone and will look to keep up his good form against 17th-placed Cremonese on Saturday. 

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