Real Madrid have never been short of attacking talent. They’ve had heroes of the game leave and many others come. But lack of goals has never been a long-term issue for the Los Blancos. Karim Benzema is one reason, as the Frenchman is still going strong. But they’ve always had able back-ups to make up for Benzema’s absences.
In that sense, Zinedine Zidane’s recent comments make sense. The former midfielder was sure that the club is in no need to sign another striker in the upcoming January transfer window. He did sound very clear and honest- something that can be seen as a clear sign.
And there is no need for Real to sign someone too. Benzema has found the back of the net 16 times in 23 games in all competitions, racking up a tally of seven assists as well. But it isn’t completely about him. Zidane perhaps, knows that there is a very good player in Luka Jovic as well.
The Serbian was brought in as a long-term signing. Jovic was in fine form for Eintracht Frankfurt last season, forming a devastating trio with Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic. In 48 games in all competitions for Adi Hutter’s side, he found the back of the net 27 times and also had seven assists to his name.
In his first season in the loan stint from Benfica, Jovic was showing signs of form too. He had played 27 times in all competitions, scoring nine times and racking up a couple of assists. Last season was his emergence and Real cashed in.
The fee involved was €65 million– huge for any 21-year-old. On his departure, Frankfurt sporting director Fredi Bobic said: “His explosiveness and capacity to score goals propelled us into Europe and we have benefited from more than just his goals in the past two years.
“But it was clear that there was a limit to what kind of bid we could refuse. For Eintracht Frankfurt, this is a good and important transfer. We wish Luka all the best in the future. He has all the attributes to have a great career. And we are proud that we have supported him on his way.”
As things stand, it hasn’t gone as per plan for Jovic. But it is hardly much of his fault. Any striker in the world would struggle when playing behind Benzema in the pecking order.
The last time someone did a fantastic job of playing second-fiddle to Benzema was Alvaro Morata. In the 2016-17 season, Morata had a tally of 15 goals and five assists in just 25 La Liga games. Numbers like that can’t be underestimated. And Morata was at his peak at that point. It will be unfair to expect a 22-year-old to do the same, especially when it is Jovic’s first season in Spain. Add in the big price tag, the pressure is immense.
But it is about expectations too. When Jovic came in, no one saw him as a regular striker. He was seen as a long-term heir to Benzema and not the immediate replacement. In that sense, the expectations have been very unfair. He was being expected to do things that are very rare.
And at 22, Jovic just needs time and patience. As the season wears on, he will get more games and more time on the pitch. That is all he needs to express himself and be the player he was at Frankfurt. All Real fans need is patience and rationality. Once he comes back to his form, Real will not need a striker anytime soon.