Expectations have been unfair on Luka Jovic over the last few weeks. Football fans have already forgotten that a €60 million fee doesn’t always mean that the player starts scoring goals from the first day, even if he is just 21 years old.
Real did shell out that big a fee on Jovic but it was more of an investment for the future than the present. It is nearly impossible for a player as young as Jovic to join a side like Real Madrid and start scoring for fun- like he did for the Eagles last season.
It is a case of asking too much. More so when Karim Benzema seems back to his best. The presumption, when Jovic signed, was that he would succeed Benzema as soon as the Frenchman fades. But Benzema seems far from fading away anytime soon.
Players like Gonzalo Higuain and Alvaro Morata have been where Jovic currently finds himself. They’ve played second-fiddle to one of the best strikers of this generation in Benzema. They were at their primes and in severe need for gametime- a situation far different from Jovic’s.
One can’t expect the young Serb to replicate Morata’s impressive statistics from the bench. Not in his first few months at a huge club. In just 26 appearances, Morata had scored 15 goals in the 2016-17 season for the Los Blancos (as per Transfermarkt). He had this tally when Benzema was believed to be ‘declining’.
Jovic is having to do the same job when Benzema seems like a European elite again and when Jovic himself is very new to the Real dressing room. He is being criticised when he has the huge burden of the transfer fee on him.
Marca are already dubbing Jovic as ‘the least productive signing in recent years’ at the Bernabeu. This comes months after many Spanish dailies were themselves heralding Jovic as the ‘future’ of the club. But in the space of some months, their opinions have been shaped by the present. That is reminiscent of some fans too.
Having said that, Jovic isn’t a bad player at all. At Frankfurt, he played under a manager who has a knack for improving forward players- Adi Hutter. The German moulded Jovic into a complete goalscorer and he did the same with Sebastien Haller too.
At the Commerzbank Arena, Jovic was ‘the man’ of the side. He played regularly and he was the main man. He had the confidence of scoring 17 times in 32 appearances. The former Benfica man was dominating the Bundesliga in the right system.
Hutter played (plays) a narrow 3-4-3 possession-based system and due to that, Jovic had Haller and Rebic closer to him. That brought the best out of him. At Real, things are miles different.
Real president Florentino Perez has long been known as one of Karim Benzema’s biggest fans. If there’s any player he would put his life on, that is Benzema. And the former Lyon man is class apart. He has proven doubters wrong over the last few months, scoring six times in seven appearances.
He isn’t going away anytime soon. Not in the next one year. Till that time, Jovic will not get first-team football at the Los Blancos. He is still very much the same player but he is at a time in his career where he should not be playing the role Real want him to play.
Reports about him being available for loan certainly make sense, in that case. He needs to play regular football for another 12 months. He is the player need but he has come at the wrong time. If Real had signed someone like Fernando Llorente of Wissam Ben Yedder, they would not have had as many problems because of their ages.
As things stand, nothing has wrong terribly wrong. The best option for Jovic is to go out on loan in January. And Real should get an older striker who will be satisfied with playing second-fiddle to another world-class striker.