It was reported earlier this week that Chelsea is interested in Eintracht Frankfurt’s Luka Jović (on loan from Benfica) and have been in contact with his agent Fali Ramadani, with it being suggested that the club has already made an offer of around €45m (£40m) to acquire the Serbian striker in the summer.
Now, you’re thinking this is nothing more than just another rumour from the mainstream media. However, if we look further, this is not the case.
Fali Ramadani is someone our club knows very well, especially the owner Roman Abramovich. Ramadani was the intermediary who helped us to sign both Head Coach Maurizio Sarri & his trusted ‘conductor’ Jorginho, along with helping the club to establish contacts with the likes of Gonzalo Higuaín, Juventus’ Daniele Rugani and Alisson Becker of Liverpool amongst others.
With this in mind, this makes me believe that the interest shown in Jovic is more than just rumours. With there being a strong possibility of Jovic making SW6 his home come the end of the season, I think it’s good to have a closer look at the striker that is gaining plaudits and attraction across the whole of Europe right now.
WHO IS LUKA JOVIĆ?
• Age: 21
• Position: Striker
• Club: Eintracht Frankfurt (on loan from S.S. Benfica)
• Nationality: Serbian
• 2018/19 record: 31 Games, 20 Goals (0.64 GPG ratio)
Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jović was signed as a trainee by Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade after impressing in a youth-team tournament when he was just eight. Despite interest from city rivals Partizan, he elected to play for Red Star.
He progressed through the ranks, earning comparisons with Red Star legend Darko Pančev – one of the club’s greatest ever having won the European Golden Boot in 1991 as Red Star lifted the European Cup.
Earmarked as a future talent, he further confirmed that by breaking a long-standing record held by another club legend in Dejan Stanković.
Making his debut aged 16 years and 156 days, he scored against Novi Sad on May 28, 2014, only five minutes after coming on the field as a second-half substitute to become Red Star’s youngest ever competitive goalscorer.
Having already been capped at Under-17 level, that summer saw him compete at the Under-19 European Championships alongside another Serb who appears destined for the top of the game in Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savić.
Serbia reached the semi-finals in Hungary and the following season he became a regular fixture in the Red Star side scoring six goals in 24 games in all competitions.
He signed a three-year deal in Belgrade in the summer of 2015 but Red Star would only have him for another six months as he was snapped up by Portuguese giants Benfica in February 2016. Upon signing Jovic, Benfica was surprised to find that Jović’s contract was actually owned by Cypriot side Apollon Limassol and had to pay €7 million in five instalments of €1.25 million, contrary to €2.2 million transfer fee that was reported.
However, his progression in Lisbon stalled where he failed to make a first-team breakthrough, mainly turning out for the reserve side before Frankfurt, coached by now Bayern boss Niko Kovać, took him to Germany in the summer of 2017.
His first season in the Bundesliga was a positive one as he finished with nine goals in 27 games, including the winner in the DFB Pokal semi-final against Schalke, with Kovac drawing comparisons with Croatian legend Davor Šuker.
But in 2018/19 he’s raised the bar even further with his finishing and all-round importance to Frankfurt.
WHAT STRENGTHS DOES HE HAVE?
The Eintracht Frankfurt striker is tearing up the Bundesliga and the UEFA Europa League this season. A powerful penalty-box predator, the Serbian’s range of finishing is matched only by his composure in front of goal.
Jović has an excellent first touch and just an overall presence inside the penalty box. He ranks second among Bundesliga attackers for scoring attempts per 90 with 4.82 and fifth for touches in the opposition area on 7.39, which emphasises just what a menace he is for defenders.
His shooting accuracy is a solid 50 per cent and the fact his xG per 90 is 0.38 yet he’s averaging 1.4 goals every 90 minutes, indicates a finisher of genuine quality.
Indeed, his goals this season have a certain theme to them – finding space around the penalty spot, with Frankfurt attacking in transition, and then scoring via either one or two touches. Very predator-like if you ask me.
A perfect example of what Jović is capable of is his incredible five-goal – and five-star – display in the 7-1 annihilation of Fortuna Dusseldorf back in November last year. Jovic scored two left-foot volleys in the opening half, completed his hat-trick early in the second and still had time to add two more as the home side ran riot.
And that is Jović down to a tee – an exceptionally efficient striker. Great at finding and creating space, capable of scoring with both right and left foot, possess very good acceleration… Jović is very much a striker’s striker.
Quick and instinctive with an excellent appreciation of space and inert knowledge of where the goal is, that natural ability in front of goal catches the eye. Comfortable either up front on his own or with a strike partner, Jović’s finishing is unerring. He’s also quick in transition, physically strong and rarely injured.
• Red Star Belgrade – 48 Apps, 13 Goals
• Benfica B – 18 Apps, 4 Goals
• Benfica – 4 Apps, 0 Goals
• Eintracht Frankfurt (Loan) – 55 Apps, 28 goals
• Serbia – 3 Apps, 0 Goals
(Correct as of Thursday 14th February)
JOVIC AT CHELSEA A REALISTIC POSSIBILITY?
The two clubs that have a significant interest in the Serbian International are Chelsea and Barcelona.
Barcelona has looked at him closely throughout this season and had appeared to have agreed a fee with Benfica for Jovic during last month’s transfer window, but that has turned out to be a bit premature.
Barcelona’s major problem is Financial Fair Play (FFP). It is supposedly reported that the Catalan side only has €50 million in their transfer budget for next season as of right now, so the priority for them is to offload as many players as they possibly can before even entertaining the thought of making a concrete offer.
As for Chelsea, FFP is not an issue for them. After recently announcing record profits and the expectation of the London side to have a huge squad overhaul in the summer – Jović is seen as one of the main targets for the five-time Premier League champions.
Chelsea – just like Barcelona – have been monitoring for a while now and this is not a knee-jerk reaction by the club to potentially solve our striker woes in the forthcoming summer.
Another thing to consider is that if Jović did go to Barcelona, he would not be starting/playing every single game as he would be seen as a ‘project’ player for the future. If he came to Chelsea however, he would walk straight into the team, no question.
Jović would be a fantastic acquisition by Chelsea. Excellent first touch, comfortable with both feet, good movement, good awareness, extremely efficient… he ticks a lot of boxes in terms of what you want from a modern-day centre forward.
It’s time to start thinking about the long-term. With the club in the midst of a huge transformation both on and off the pitch, the 21-year-old might – and should in my opinion – be the next striker that is brought to Stamford Bridge.
He will have plenty of time (& chances to play to his strengths under a Head Coach like Sarri) to develop into possibly one of the best future strikers in Europe, if not the world. Alongside the likes of Higuain (for the rest of his loan period) before passing the reigns over to Tammy Abraham and a youth graduate in either Daishawn Redan or Charlie Brown for example – Chelsea could have a genuine strike force for many years to come.
They would be foolish to pass up on the opportunity to get Jović. Let’s hope they don’t.