Luka Jovic: 10 things on Eintracht Frankfurt's on-loan Real Madrid striker
Luka Jovic's stock as a "complete forward" rose substantially in Germany's financial capital and now the Serbian striker is back on-loan at the club from Real Madrid, bundesliga.com gives you some insight into Eintracht Frankfurt's returning marksman...
1) Start as you mean to go on
Jovic would become Red Star Belgrade's youngest ever goalscorer on the final day of the 2013/14 Serbia SuperLiga season, finding the net just three minutes into his professional debut. The teenage prodigy hit the equaliser in Red Star's 3-3 draw with FK Vojvodina Novi Sad aged just 16 years, five months and five days.
2) A Red Star partisan
The jewel in Red Star's crown, Jovic could have ended up representing bitter city rivals Partizan. Having been born in Bosnia, Red Star paid for Jovic's travel over the border and back for training as a youngster but was presented a deal by Partizan after the club managed to persuade Jovic's father to take him to see what the Black and Whites had to offer. Jovic would repay The Star though, and sign on with the club that gave him his first platform.
Watch: The return of Luka Jovic
3) Join the queue Robin
Ahead of the Red Star's 2014/15 season, club director Zvezdan Terzic - remember the name as he'll feature again - handed the Belgrade outfit's famed number nine shirt to a teenage Jovic. Terzic had to explain his reasoning to Jovic's fellow forward Djordje Despotovic, telling him that even Dutch legend Robin van Persie - at the time firing for Manchester United - would have to get in line behind the Serbian wonderkid should he move to the Rajko Mitic Stadium.
"I said to him: 'You’re a good player but at the moment van Persie could come to Red Star and the nine would still go to Jovic," said Terzic.
4) A winning mentality
Before turning 21, Jovic already had four league winner's medals and lifted a domestic cup trophy. Two of those league crowns came with Red Star, with two more at Benfica, who secured successive Portuguese Liga NOS triumphs in 2015/16 and 16/17. Jovic only featured briefly in those Benfica championships, but the same can't be said of his role in Frankfurt’s 2018 DFB Cup glory. The Serbian scored the only goal of the game in the semi-final win over Schalke - a spectacular back-heeled flick, no less - before watching his team from the bench as they beat Bayern Munich in the final and he returns to Frankfurt as a LaLiga and Spanish Super Cup winner from his first season with Real.
5) High five
Jovic truly announced himself to the Bundesliga in the most emphatic of ways by hitting five in Frankfurt's 7-1 demolition of Fortuna Düsseldorf early in the 2018/19 season. "I was 12 the last time I scored five goals," declared a delighted Jovic after becoming the youngest player to ever hit five in a single Bundesliga match.
Jovic became the 17th player in the league's history to achieve the feat and the first since Robert Lewandowski bagged five in just nine minutes against Wolfsburg in 2015. Only one player has netted more in a single German top-flight fixture; Dieter Müller with six in Cologne’s 7-2 victory over Werder Bremen back in 1977.
6) Red-hot record
At the midway point of the same campaign, only Borussia Dortmund's Spanish striker Paco Alcacer had scored more regularly than Jovic out of players with more than six league goals. Alcacer's 12 strikes came at a ridiculous rate of one every 42 minutes, while Jovic averaged a goal every 84. He's flown out of the blocks again second time round, coming off the bench with 28 minutes to play - and the scores level at 1-1 - in the MD16 meeting with Schalke in his first appearance back in Germany, before scoring twice to seal a 3-1 Eintracht victory.
By the the end of the 2018/19 campaign, only Alcacer (18) and Torjägerkanone victor Lewandowski (22) had more league goals than Jovic. Across the entire season Jovic scored 27 in all competitions, with 10 more strikes coming from 14 UEFA Europa League appearances, including a goal in each leg of the semi-final against eventual champions Chelsea as Frankfurt narrowly missed out on a spot in the showpiece. Chelsea's Olivier Giroud (11) was the sole player that managed more Europa League goals that year.
Watch: Luka Jovic scored a historic five-goal haul against Fortuna
7) The Serbian Falcao
"I like Radamel Falcao the most. Playing with the left, right, head. Every chance he takes, he's fantastic. I'd love to be at least like him." - Luka Jovic, 2013
"Luka Jovic is going to explode this season, he is going to be the Serbian Radamel Falcao.” - Red Star Belgrade director Zvezdan Terzic, 2014
The links with Falcao followed Jovic in his early years and it's easy to see why: both players are intelligent in their movement, excellent on the ball and comfortable shooting on either foot. Jovic's devastating goal haul at youth level, with 44 in 59 games for Serbia's U16s - U21s, is also a record the prolific Falcao would have been proud of.
8) A complete forward
Much like Falcao, Jovic is seen as a well-rounded, complete forward, possessing that rich list of attributes that make him such an attractive prospect for any manager and a delight for teammates to play alongside. Former colleague Kevin-Prince Boateng, in particular, is a fan: "He has everything to become [a world-class striker]. You see that in training. He has football in his genes, he's a street footballer, and he has a nose for goal. He scores with his head, right or left foot. He is technically good and can shoot well with both feet. He just has everything a striker needs."
And then there is former Eintracht partner in crime Sebastien Haller who described Jovic as the most complete forward in the club’s ranks - more so than himself: “He brings everything: he's fast, robust, technically savvy and a super finisher.”
Watch: Luka Jovic's best Bundesliga goals
9) World Cup baptism
Jovic was given a baptism of fire when he made his senior international debut. His fine Frankfurt form encouraged Serbia to select Jovic in their 2018 FIFA World Cup squad for Russia - despite having not played a minute of their qualifying campaign or, for that matter, ever previously being called up to the senior team.
Serbia then handed the young forward his debut in their warm-up match against Chile and Jovic would go on to feature in Serbia's 2-0 defeat to Brazil in the final match of the World Cup group stage.
10) Thank you, Niko
According to Jovic, it's former Eintracht and Bayern boss Niko Kovac who he has to thank for his big breakthrough. Despite enchanting Benfica reserves coach Helder Cristovao in their very first training session together - the former Portugal international claimed that he could become "a great" as someone who "reminds me of Sergio Aguero with his technique and instinct" - Jovic played just 40 minutes of first team football in Portugal, where he claims he failed to settle in, and set about leaving.
At Eintracht he met Kovac, who kick-started his career after it threatened to stall before it’d really begun. "In one month in Frankfurt I ran more than in an entire year in Lisbon," Jovic told the Frankfurter Rundschau. Perhaps it was the ability to communicate easily with his new coach and fellow Balkan, but he settled in immediately in Germany and was given confidence by Kovac, who taught him discipline on and off the pitch. "I just needed someone like Niko Kovac to wake me up. He demands the maximum and gets the maximum out of someone. I have Niko Kovac to thank for the success I now have," the 21-year-old added.
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