From the Handbook: Luka Jović
This profile was originally published in the Scouted Football Handbook: Volume I, our first print publication published in February 2019. The print version has sold out, but you can buy the digital copy – for the price of a coffee or pint – here. It's well worth a lockdown read.
CAREER IN REVIEW
Luka Jović is a forward with the world at his feet. He is an instinctive goal-scorer who possesses the physical and technical attributes that the top sides in European football covet above all others. More importantly, however, he has firmly displayed that he has a keen eye for goal. Already strongly linked to the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City it appears certain that Jović will be starring next season in the Champions League. His is anything but an overnight success story though. The 21-yearold forward is now a full international for Serbia although he was actually born across the border in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His promise was apparent early and there was significant interest from Germany, and VfB Stuttgart, and from Serbia where both Partizan and Red Star Belgrade were intent on luring the youngster to the Serbian capital. Luckily for Red Star, the entire Jović family were huge fans of the club and Luka was determined to pull on the red and white stripes.
At 20 years and 200 days old, Luka Jović was the youngest-ever player to score five goals in a single Bundesliga game
The hype around Jović continued when he made his first team debut, as a 16-year-old, against Vojvodina. He scored two minutes after coming on as a substitute. From that point on Jovic was an established first-team player. This led to the interest in securing the young forwards services being high and in 2016 he agreed a deal to join Portuguese giants Benfica for a reported €6 million. This was part of a larger recruitment strategy from Benfica that also saw them sign the likes of Lazar Marković and Andrija Živković. Life in Portugal did not go exactly as planned for Jović and in 2017 he moved to Eintracht Frankfurt on a two-season loan. Crucially the loan deal includes an option for the German side to purchase Jović for €7 million. After 26 appearances of the 2018/19 season, he has already racked up 19 goals and three assists with Frankfurt certain to activate their right to buy.
STYLE OF PLAY
Genuine goalscorers are difficult to find in modern football. The natural successors to the likes of Edinson Cavani, Falcao, Luis Suárez and Robert Lewandowski have not been immediately apparent in recent seasons. There are arguments that the likes of Marcus Rashford and Kylian Mbappé are these players but they represent a different style of forward altogether. Now, with the development of Luka Jović, the heir apparent is very much in focus.
The first thing that strikes you when watching and analysing a player like Jović is that he scores every type of goal imaginable. He scores with his left foot, his right foot, his head. He scores from close in, from outside the area or via acrobatic volleys. It makes the 21-year-old the kind of forward that defenders truly hate to play against, one that cannot be ignored at any moment or in any situation.
His physical profile is immediately interesting in that he does not stand out in any individual aspect. He is not the tallest nor the fastest but he constantly wins aerial battles and outpaces opposition defenders; an interesting contrast to say the least. This is, however, a direct result of his awareness of space and how to exploit it efficiently. Jović displays an advanced understanding of where to place himself to take advantage of the positioning of the central defenders or full-backs. If you watch him closely you will see the Serb position himself on the shoulder of the furthest centre-back from the ball, in the defender’s blind spot. This little bit of positioning allows Jović to make the first movement without being immediately tracked by the defender, giving him the edge on the defensive line and allowing him to maintain the spatial advantage.
It is interesting to watch a playlist of goals from the 21-year-old this season. On more than one occasion, all that the Serbian forward has had to do is guide the ball into an empty net as it is knocked back across goal. This is seemingly an easy goal, the finish at least is simple, right? What is impressive, however, is that Jović is consistently the player found in the right place at the right time to finish these chances. This is no accident. He has an instinctive ability to occupy space that results in the ball often falling to him favourably. It is result of hours spent on the training pitch, refining his understanding and awareness.
It is difficult to identify a genuine flaw in the Serbian forward’s game. He is still raw in some aspects and, at times, his touch can be heavy in tight areas. However, he makes up for this with his ability to finish first time from a variety of angles and hit the ball with power. This season we have seen Jović strike up an excellent partnership at Frankfurt with the French forward Sébastien Haller. The two work extremely well in a tandem with Haller tending to be the player to drop into deeper areas allowing his strike partner to operate further ahead, pushing back the opposition defensive line. There is nothing to suggest that Jović would not be equally comfortable playing as the lone forward in front three, as we would likely see if he makes the expected move to one of Europe’s elite.
FORECAST FOR THE FUTURE
There is no chance whatsoever that Frankfurt will refuse the opportunity to trigger the clause in the loan deal to sign Jovic for a bargain price. The real question surrounds what will happen next. The Frankfurt sporting director is the former German international forward Fredi Bobic, who incidentally was also at VFB Stuttgart when they were interested in Jovic at the start of his career. Bobic has reportedly acknowledged the interest in Jović from around Europe and has apparently loosely discussed the possibility that the forward is a €100 million player.
The likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona should be interested in the Serbian forward. Each side currently has an elite number nine in Lewandowski and Suarez, but both are entering the final stage of their peak years and their clubs are surely considering succession plans. For any interested team, the beauty of a player like Jović is that his game is not overly dependent on a single style of play. He would flourish in a counter-attacking team or in a side that plays more of a possession style. He will score goals regardless as long as he is surrounded by players that will allow him to operate in space and that will provide the chances that he needs.
Scouted Football Handbook: Volume VI is here. Buy your copy now.