Luka Jovic was back to his unerring best on his first appearance since rejoining Eintracht Frankfurt on a six-month loan from Real Madrid. - © imago/ DFL
Luka Jovic was back to his unerring best on his first appearance since rejoining Eintracht Frankfurt on a six-month loan from Real Madrid. - © imago/ DFL
bundesliga

Luka Jovic: MD16's Man of the Matchday back where he belongs at Eintracht Frankfurt

Thomas Müller at Bayern Munich, Marco Reus at Borussia Dortmund, Luka Jovic at Eintracht Frankfurt - some players just belong.

Jovic made an emphatic return to the club where he made his name on Bundesliga Matchday 16, scoring twice from the bench in a 3-1 win over Schalke.

The Real Madrid loanee was only on the pitch for 31 second-half minutes, but that was all he needed to match his tally across 21 La Liga appearances since leaving Frankfurt for the Spanish capital in summer 2019.

"Before the game, I asked Luka how many goals he was going to score," revealed Frankfurt teammate Djibril Sow.

"He said: 'If I play 15 minutes, I'll score one.' So then I said to him, 'if you play 30 minutes, that means you'll score two.'

"And that's what he did. I'll have to give him a little something as a reward."

Jovic's brace is doubtless reward enough for a player who was left out in the cold in Madrid, despite arriving from Frankfurt as one of the hottest young strikers in the game.

In 32 Bundesliga games across 2018/19 alone, he scored 17 goals - as well as a further 10 in 14 UEFA Europa League outings. Yet those are just the raw statistics behind a supremely efficient front man.

Of Jovic's 27 Bundesliga goals to date, 10 have come with his left foot, 12 with his right and five have been headers. What's more, the 23-year-old scores with every 4.2 shots, converting roughly three quarters of his big chances in the Bundesliga.

"In the end, our performance just wasn't enough to stop Luka Jovic," conceded Schalke head coach Christian Gross. "He has enormous quality."

Watch: Frankfurt 3-1 Schalke - in 60 seconds!

Real reportedly splashed upwards of €55M to bring the all-singing, all-dancing Jovic to the Santiago Bernabeu. That he was left to spend 23 competitive games between making his debut in August 2019 and his Frankfurt homecoming on the bench - starting only 11 - is a travesty.

Happily, Jovic - as evinced by his clinical double from as many efforts on goal against Schalke - is living proof of the old adage that class is permanent.

"Luka didn't have many touches, but when he did, he was incredibly effective," said Frankfurt sporting director Fredi Bobic, who first brought the former Red Star Belgrade prodigy to Germany's financial capital from Portuguese giants Benfica, initially on loan, back in July 2017.

"The script was written. He has an added level of class, and the air here does him really good."

Jovic showed no signs of any ring rust on his second Bundesliga debut. - Pool/Ronald Wittek - Pool/Getty Image

All told, Jovic has scored 38 times in 76 appearances for Frankfurt, including 27 in 55 Bundesliga outings. Six-hundred-and-ten days separated his previous German top-flight strike - also against Schalke - and Matchday 16 salvo. Eintracht fans might have to wait just 72 hours for his next, with a trip to Freiburg slated for 20 January.

When Jovic left Frankfurt for Madrid, the Eagles had suffered an agonising end to their 2018/19 campaign, dropping out of top-four contention on the final day. Fast forward 18 months, and his third career Bundesliga brace has put them right back in the mix for the UEFA Champions League places, with some 18 rounds of fixtures still to be played.

With only three points to make up on fourth-in-the-table Dortmund, and no DFB Cup or European distractions, Frankfurt and their adopted goalbroker - on a six-month loan at the Deutsche Bank Park - could be about to strike it very rich indeed.

Chris Mayer-Lodge