The Jović Conundrum

By: Gokul Kumar

After the ridiculous blip that happened in the 2019 season following the departure of a certain French head honcho and the legendary Portuguese goal scoring machine, Real Madrid knew that the big bucks must be spent to get them back on track. This warranted a spending spree which was not alien for the capital club which saw a bevy of top tier talents from Europe’s best leagues line up in white.

Luka Jović, the Serbian marksman who lit up the Bundesliga with his sensational displays for a rampant Frankfurt side, was a top addition in attack and was supposed to carry the Galactico tag forward. Fast forward to 2022, however, the new Galacticos have mostly faltered and the news around Jović every transfer window since has put him firmly in the long list of players in football who might have been.

The ex-Eintracht Frankfurt attacking dynamo was a force to be reckoned with and formed a deadly alliance with Haller, Ante Rebić and Filip Kostić, as the quartet produced stunning displays in the Bundesliga as well as in Europe which saw prying eyes snap up 3 of the 4 in the subsequent window.

Jović’s decline, although sharp, was inevitable as he could never replicate being the centrepiece of the attack in a Los Blancos side stacked to the brim with forward options and managed by Zidane, notorious for being inflexible with the squad he had; Jović’s first season was one to forget as he faced an uphill struggle to prove to Zidane he could deputise for Benzema, a task much easier said than done, and his chances were blemished by off colour showings from the bench with only the occasional flash of brilliance, performances that clearly wouldn’t displace the prolific Frenchman, especially with the calibre of performances he was putting out.

The transfer windows, including the one that just passed us by, offered Jović a chance at staking a claim at the Bernabéu by shining in a loan move, a narrative that was all too familiar in the footballing world albeit one that was very much still a work in progress at the Bernabéu. Jović even got his chance at redemption with a half year loan to his beloved Frankfurt, a move that started out in the best way possible with him scoring from the bench. His highlight reel back in the Bundesliga however was far too short and the Serbian seemed like a talent that the footballing world had passed on, and yet again, he returned to Real with much to prove and Benzema getting better and better. It seemed that under Zidane, there was no way forward. 

This season with Ancelotti breathing fresh life into the team, one reasonably expected Jović to be given his chance but Ancelotti has once again proved to be built on the veterans in the Real side with little to no space to take a chance on the ex-Frankfurt man. But due to the scarcity of options in the striker role, Jović was forced to stay and stay on the bench as our Italian manager’s staunch insistence on the 4-3-3 did not provide him the chance to play alongside Benzema, an option that would have suited him better. 

Luka Jović is a class act, but the chances that he’s been given have been very few and far in between, a situation from which even some of the world’s best would have a hard time recovering. I strongly believe that the clinical Serbian can be an outstanding squad player if used right and provides us an uncanny presence in the box that is a nightmare for any defense. A partnership with Benzema, with the Frenchman facilitating and creating space for Jović who is remarkably two footed and can convert chances with aplomb, would be an ideal situation and one that could open up games in the dying embers. He may not be the Benzema replacement but Luka Jović has the ability and the pedigree to wear the all white and under a different managerial system, we could see him turn into yet another prolific presence in attack. 

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