Luka Jovic has returned to Eintracht Frankfurt on loan from Real Madrid and finds in Germany a brother-in-shooting-boots in Andre Silva - could the prolific duo become the Bundesliga's most potent partnership?
"Luka is coming home," said Frankfurt boss Adi Hütter as the Serbia international striker packed his bags in the Spanish capital to return to the club where he spent two fruitful, goal-filled seasons between 2017 and 2019.
"Luka can use the next few months to find his way back to old strength in a familiar environment," said sporting director Fredi Bobic. "Real Madrid know that he's in good hands with us and that he can develop here. And it is clear to us that we have another excellent option up front."
There is no doubt Jovic should quickly feel comfortable at the Commerzbank Arena, though with him lining up alongside Silva, life for Bundesliga defenders is about to get a whole lot less pleasant. Make no mistake: this pairing could be the most prolific of the Rückrunde.
Watch: Andre Silva's Goal of the Month winner back in June
They share a number of similarities: both joined big clubs, and both arrived in Frankfurt with something to prove. Silva came to Germany following a disappointing spell at AC Milan, and after a successful loan spell made the move permanent last summer; Jovic returns from an underwhelming 18 months at Madrid having already revived his career at Frankfurt after joining - initially on a two-year loan from Benfica - in 2017.
They also boast an out-of-this-world scoring record in the Bundesliga. Jovic's first campaign saw him net eight times in 22 league matches, but it was his second where he caught fire: 17 goals in 32 Bundesliga games were richly supplemented by 10 strikes in 14 UEFA Europa League outings to finish with 27 goals as well as seven assists in 48 competitive appearances.
"We know just how much talent he has," said former Frankfurt teammate Kevin-Prince Boateng. "He only has to prove it. And he's doing that week after week now." "Jovic is just unbelievable! He has outstanding timing and a feel for the goal," added club and country teammate Filip Kostic.
Jovic was involved in 34 goals in 34 league starts for Frankfurt - we don't need to help you work out that jaw-dropping ratio, do we? - scoring 25 of those himself. His new strike partner Silva has contributed to 29 goals in 30 starts, netting 23. Just imagine what beautiful music they can make together…
"Players from other leagues need time to adapt," said Frankfurt sporting director Fredi Bobic last February as Silva started to take flight with the Eagles…just before the COVID-19 enforced break.
The Portugal international, now 25, ended the 2019/20 season with a more-than-respectable 12 goals in 25 league appearances, though the fact eight of those strikes came in his final 10 appearances of the campaign suggested Bobic was right.
The former Stuttgart and Germany international forward's smile will be all the broader now with Silva having already netted 11 league goals in just 14 outings in 2020/21, including two in last weekend's Rhine-Main derby win over Mainz. That's 19 goals in the former Porto man's last 24 Bundesliga games, the sort of stat that must make opposing centre-backs come out in a cold sweat.
If it does, they should stop reading now, because it is only going to get scarier.
The pair have remarkable efficiency: four shots per goal for Silva, five for Jovic. They both boast five headers among their goals tally with Jovic scoring 10 each in the Bundesliga with either foot. Silva has netted the all-important opening goal six times in his German top-flight career so far - three for Jovic - and puts away nearly two 'big chances' of every three he gets. "He's our all-round entertainer up front, and he does it really well," gushed Hütter of the Portuguese front man earlier this season. Now, he has two of them.
Watch: The best of Luka Jovic
The question is: how will the Eintracht boss juggle them? And how will they play off each other?
The fact that neither of them has a long-distance Bundesliga goal suggests they might tread on each other's toes in opposition penalty areas, but quality players always find a way of linking up, and other stats suggest they will. And quite effectively too.
Jovic, who worked brilliantly with Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic in his first spell in Frankfurt, has nine league assists in his 34 starts, Silva has tallied 6. Between them, they cover over 12 miles a game on average - happily, split into six miles apiece - and boast a 'duels won' ratio of around 45 per cent each. Those are not the numbers of players purely obsessed with massaging their own figures.
"Andre works a huge amount for the team and chases down opponents, that's very important for us," said Frankfurt midfielder Sebastian Rode. "Andre works so hard for the team, even when he doesn't score," added Hütter, who knows Jovic well enough from the Serbian's previous spell to be able to blend the prolific pair into a partnership.
"The most important factor is the coach, "said Jovic as he explained the development of his understanding with Haller and Rebic in his first Frankfurt spell. "He gives us the freedom to show our quality on the pitch."
If the Austrian tactician was able to do it with three players before, it should be even easier with just two.
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