Luka Jovic – Real Madrid’s precocious all-round striker

Luka Jovic’ 27 goal and 6 assist season earned him a blockbuster £51 million move to Real Madrid but he could become integral to Los Blancos because of his ability as an all-round striker. The compact and muscle-bound 21-year-old took a while to make good on his early promise but eventually proved Fredi Bobic and Helena Costa’s decision to sign him on loan with an option to buy as an apt one. Eintracht Frankfurt turned such a spectacular profit on their investment that it would impress the bankers at their stadium sponsor, Commerzbank.

 

Jovic’ talent has never been in doubt while his attitude has been considered wayward due to his penchant for sweets and not committing himself to harnessing his skills. Jovic assimilated to the city of Frankfurt due to the propensity of a high number of English speakers while he bonded with fellow Serbians, Mijat Gacinovic – who was also born in Bosnia – Filip Kostic as well as the Croat, Ante Rebic. German-born Croat coach, Niko Kovac – as a former professional - extolled the values of hard work and professionalism to Jovic in a season where he scored 8 goals in the Bundesliga and another in the DFB Cup semi-final against Schalke as he earned the respect of teammates.

Jovic switch-ball.

Jovic switch-ball.


“Luka is a player who can help any top club,” Boateng told DAZN while he played for Eintracht Frankfurt. “When I was there, he rarely played, because he lacked the necessary maturity. But you could already see his outstanding quality. He is both-footed, fast, good with his head and has a great technique. He has everything.”

Jovic’ ability to finish with both feet from a wide range of angles and awkward positions endeared him to the Bundesliga and ultimately Real Madrid as well as his propensity for sharp and instinctive movement in the box. Something that could make him a mainstay for Real Madrid over the long term is a similar facet of his game that made his predecessor Karim Benzema a mainstay for Los Blancos. Jovic’ ability as an all-round striker and his clever use of possession with his back to goal and in the deeper areas of the pitch could make him Real Madrid’s striker for years to come. It has been long since a striker at such a tender age and in the fledgling stages of his career moved to either Barcelona or Real Madrid amid such fanfare.

Jovic proved his potential as a ball-player under Kovac in a match at home to Hoffenheim in the 2017/18 season while the Serbian striker was comfortable at playing the ball through the lines. Last season, in an away match against Borussia Dortmund, the 21-year-old came on at half-time as Frankfurt switched to a more attacking approach. In the Europa League, Frankfurt were unbeaten in the group stages as at home to Marseille, Gacinovic beat a man to have his shot palmed into the path of Jovic to tap-in. Jetro Willems then played the striker through into a 1v1 situation with the keeper for the Serbian to drive his opportunity wide.

Jovic put the missed opportunity behind him as a free-kick from Mokoto Hasebe was headed into the path of Sebastian Haller who nodded on to Jovic to acrobatically flick past Marseille goalkeeper, Yohan Pele. With the brace, the former Benfica striker scored 5 goals in 5 games in the Europa League as he would double that number by the time Frankfurt were eliminated from European competition. At home to Bayern Munich, he showed his innate sense of timing and movement in approach play as he dummied from Kostic for Gacinovic to play through Danny Da Costa to have his shot saved.

Haller and Jovic took turns dropping into the ten space to work the ball in the final third as the other and Ante Rebic would hold their position in the box, maintaining the attention of centre-backs. Adi Hutter’s style of vigorous pressing and counter-pressing saddled his strikers with defensive responsibility as they were tasked with pressing centre-backs, closing central passing lanes and situationally moving up to press the opposition goalkeeper. In possession, Frankfurt would look to spread the ball to the flanks as Jovic had to remain aware of crosses and second balls into the box. Away to Borussia Dortmund, a Rebic corner was cleared before Da Costa regained possession to cross for the outstretched leg of the Serbian to divert the ball past Roman Burki.

Jovic also illustrated breath-taking technique in build-up as he chipped a ball over to Rebic with one-touch as well as threading a through ball to the Croat on the counter at the beginning of the game. Away to Shakhtar, the newly minted Real Madrid striker moved outside Da Costa to cross for Kostic to apply a calm finish at the back-post. In the next stage away to Inter Milan at San Siro – the stomping ground of El Fenomeno – Jovic put in a phenomenal all-round performance. He began the game by latching onto a short Stefan De Vrij header as he nudged the Dutch centre-back out of possession to impudently chip over Samir Handanovic with aplomb.



Jovic then dropped in between the lines with his back to goal to hit a pin-point diagonal to Da Costa and work a one-two with Haller to fashion a Willems opportunity. He continued his connection with Willems as he pinged another cross-field pass to the Dutchman then played the former PSV left-back into space for a shot. Jovic then dropped into the ten space to win an aerial duel, take on a pass and slide it through the legs of a hapless Inter defender to Sebastian Rode who spread it for Da Costa to cross for a Haller tap-in. The goal was cruelly ruled out for offside, but it showed Jovic’ clever movement and passing in deeper positions.

In the second-half, Jovic continued his dominant performance as he took on a pass, beat his man and had an opportunity blocked to charge back and regain possession with tigerish incentive, dummy a pass to Gacinovic who played in the Serb inside the box as he slipped just before shooting to deny him the opportunity to get proper contact on the ball. In the next phase against Benfica, their fans bristled at Jovic showing his talent at a different club and the Portuguese giants only collecting a measly fee as Jovic was already primed for a big move last season.

On his return to Portugal, with his side a man down, Jovic showed his aerial prowess at winning duels and collecting long balls and loose balls in the channels to recycle them into serviceable counter-attacks. In London against Chelsea, he had a moment where he took on a long ball from Martin Hinteregger to outmuscle David Luiz and cross for Da Costa to smash over the bar before Chelsea scored at the other end. His crossing ability, aerial ability despite his short stature and grace in the deeper areas means that Real Madrid could have a bargain in the modern-day market. He has the killer instinct of a cold-hearted striker in the box but the balance and artistry of a top-level attacking midfielder in the ten space as well as the deeper areas.

Jovic winning aerial duels.

Jovic winning aerial duels.


“You always have to be careful with superlatives," said the Adi Hutter to the Bundesliga website earlier this season. "But for me he has the potential to become a world-class striker."

 

Karim Benzema joined Real Madrid at the same age as Jovic after a dominant season in Ligue 1 and an impressive repertoire of performances in Europe as does his younger counterpart, a decade later. The Frenchman has been a long-lasting member of the first team due to his selflessness as the Serb ten years his junior possesses the same traits. Both had concerns about their attitude but set their heads straight as Jovic would be considered a success if he had half the accolades and awards of his French elder. Real Madrid have signed a young striker primed for a long-term stay for a bargain in the modern-day market as they fully ensconce themselves in the post Cristiano Ronaldo era. Jovic shook the natural order of the Bundesliga finishing joint-third in the top goal scorers’ charts as Real Madrid hope he can do the same in La Liga.