Sun. Jun 23rd, 2019

Luka Jovic: From little-known loanee to Europe’s in-demand striker

Luka Jovic was bound to score against Germany on Wednesday night. He gave Serbia a first half lead in the 1-1 friendly draw in Wolfsburg, taking advantage of a fluke ricochet to nod the ball past Manuel Neuer from close range.

It was his first international goal, and only his fourth appearance for his country, but ahead of the game, everyone knew he was going to score.

At 21, Jovic is already a budding superstar in Germany, having dazzled the Bundesliga with his red hot form for Eintracht Frankfurt this season.

He arrived at Frankfurt two years ago as a little-known loanee, and is now one of Europe’s most talked about talents, with the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich keen to sign him this summer.

So is the Serbian youngster all he is cracked up to be, and what can we expect from him in the years to come? Sportsmail has the lowdown on Frankfurt’s super striker.

Luka Jovic scored for Serbia in their 1-1 draw with Germany in Wolfsburg on Wednesday

Who is Luka Jovic?

Having started his career in Serbia and Cyprus, Jovic caught his big break at the age of 18, when he made a £6million move to Benfica in 2016. A year later, he was loaned out to Eintracht Frankfurt, and it was here that his career really took off.

His loan spell has coincided with two of the most successful years in Frankfurt’s recent history, as the club won the German Cup under Niko Kovac last season, and are now enjoying a thrilling run in Europe.

This year in particular has seen Jovic leading the line. With 15 goals in 21 league games, he sits joint second in the Bundesliga scoring charts, behind only Robert Lewandowski.

He smashed five past Fortuna Dusseldorf in a single game last autumn, and has been instrumental in Frankfurt’s fairy tale run to the Europa League quarter-finals, netting seven goals in ten games.

Jovic was in superb form last season, scoring 27 goals in all competitions for Frankfurt

Jovic has been in superb form this season, scoring 22 goals in all competitions for Frankfurt

He’s quite the poacher then?

He is certainly an efficient goalscorer, but Jovic is more than just a poacher. He is good in the air, and his positioning and movement in the box is magnificent.

He is an elegant finisher, and has the wit to lose his marker at set pieces, but there is also a more scrappy side to his game. Though not exactly stocky, he has the strength to hold off or muscle past most defenders, meaning he can force the issue when the service isn’t there.

Think Lewandowski improved with a healthy injection of Carlos Tevez. An elegant, silent killer with a bit of terrier tenacity thrown in for good measure.

Barcelona and Bayern Munich were also keen on Jovic but Madrid pushed to get a deal done

Barcelona are said to be preparing to make a £43million bid for the in-form Frankfurt striker

That reminds me of someone…

Luis Suarez, perhaps? Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic compared Jovic to the Barcelona front man last week.

‘I would say he is like Suarez. He is a classical goalscorer with very good ball control and a good understanding of the game,’ Krstajic said.

‘He is brave and dangerous at any given moment because he is always lurking, waiting for his chance, and he will always exploit the tiniest lapse in concentration. 

‘Sometimes he looks like he is not doing much, but that is deceptive for the defenders, and makes him even more dangerous.’

Barcelona watched him grab the winner in Frankfurt's Europa League win at Inter Milan

Barcelona watched him grab the winner in Frankfurt’s recent Europa League win at Inter Milan

Will he be Suarez’s successor then?

Jovic’s form at Frankfurt has certainly piqued the interest of several big European clubs, and Barcelona are foremost among them.

The La Liga leaders are reportedly preparing a £43m bid for the youngster, having observed him when Frankfurt knocked Inter out of the Europa League last week.

‘He certainly has the potential to play for Barcelona,’ said Krstajic on Wednesday night.

They may have to fight off interest from Bayern, who are also looking to invest this summer, and may yet move on Lewandowski as they clear out the old guard and start to build a new generation.

Either way, Frankfurt can look forward to a sizable transfer fee if they do let him go this summer.

Serbia manager Mladen Krstajic compared Jovic to Barcelona front man Luis Suarez

Serbia manager Mladen Krstajic compared Jovic to Barcelona front man Luis Suarez

Isn’t he on loan from Benfica?

Strictly speaking, yes. He is still officially a Benfica player and his two-year loan deal comes to an end this summer.

However, as Frankfurt sporting director Fredi Bobic revealed last March, the loan deal includes a buyout clause which allows the German club to buy Jovic outright for ‘less than €7m’ (£6m).

‘It was a pretty good deal,’ grinned Bobic at the time, and with Jovic’s estimated value now at around £40m, it is difficult to disagree with him. Somewhere in Lisbon, someone must be feeling rather silly. 

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