Will 2020 see Luka Jovic finally find his place at Real Madrid?

He was one of Real Madrid’s marquee signings. Only Eden Hazard cost them more than Luka Jovic in the summer, with the Serbian striker making the move to the Santiago Bernabeu from Eintracht Frankfurt for around £60 million. On the basis of Jovic’s performances for the German side last season, it looked to be a shrewd addition.

After all, Real Madrid needed a striker. Karim Benzema had stepped into the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo the year before, but with the Frenchman now well into his 30s he needed someone to rotate. It was even pondered whether Jovic could play as a strike partner to Benzema. 4-4-2 has come back into vogue across Europe.

Instead, Jovic has largely had to watch from the sidelines. He has struggled for game time since joining Real Madrid, starting just three La Liga games and scoring one for his new team this season. Some have even speculated that the Serbian could be sold or loaned out with his national team manager also casting doubt on the player’s character and mindset.

“I take care of each player to get the best of the national team,” Ljubisa Tumbakovic said in a recent interview. “I’ve never given up on anyone. One player who has moved away from the team is Luka Jovic and, in truth, he’s the only one. There are no problems between us. Luka Jovic’s problem is Luka Jovic.”

2020 presents Jovic with a fresh start, though. The fixtures will now come thick and fast for Real Madrid as they move into the second half of the season and squad depth will be crucial for Zinedine Zidane as he fights for honours on all fronts. Jovic will have a role to play even if he has to play second fiddle to Benzema, who is enjoying the season of his life.

There is quite clearly a talented player in Jovic. He took the Bundesliga and the Europa League by storm last season, earning a reputation for himself as one of Europe’s best young strikers. There’s a reason Real Madrid paid around £60 million for him. It can take some players a while to get used to the environment at the Santiago Bernabeu (just ask Luka Modric). Real Madrid mustn’t write him off just yet when he still has so much to offer them.

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Where does Luka Jovic fit in at Real Madrid?

It’s ironic for a team that treated a large part of last season, in essence, as pre-season that their actual pre-season, when it finally arrived, hasn’t exactly gone to plan. Indeed, while these games, usually played in farflung corners of the globe, are generally meaningless, Real Madrid have been given something to think about.

First, there was a heavy defeat to Bayern Munich. Then there was a dreadful first half performance against Arsenal when only the second half introduction of Gareth Bale helped to turn things around. And finally, there was the humiliation at the hands of rivals Atletico Madrid, shipping no fewer than seven goals including five in the first half alone.

In all three games Zinedine Zidane has cut a concerned figure on the touchline. The former midfielder was lured back to the Santiago Bernabeu a few months ago in the belief that he was the only man who could figure things out. Now, with the start of the 2019/20 season just weeks away Zidane seems as baffled as ever.

Close to £300 million has been spent on new signings, with Eden Hazard, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, Rodrygo and Luka Jovic added to the squad. Those new additions have struggled to find their feet in pre-season, but the struggles of Jovic have been so severe they have raised questions about his place at Real Madrid.

Jovic enjoyed a hugely successful season last term, leading Eintracht Frankfurt to the semi finals of the Europa League. He is considered one of the brightest young strikers in the European game, but it’s difficult to see where he fits into Zidane’s side.

So far this pre-season he has come on as a second half substitute (against Bayern Munich) and been subbed off twice (against Arsenal and Atletico Madrid), picking up a knock. Jovic has failed to show that he can play alongside Karim Benzema in a front two, where can he be accommodated?

With Marco Asensio expected to miss the majority of the 2019/20 season with an ACL injury, the front three picked for the friendly against Atleti – Hazard, Benzema and Vinicius Junior – is predicted to be Zidane’s favoured attack. Behind that, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric with room for another midfield signing (possibly Paul Pogba or Christian Eriksen).

Zidane also has Lucas Vazquez and Isco to choose from. Mariano Diaz continues to hang around the Santiago Bernabeu too. And there’s Gareth Bale. It’s possible that despite spending in excess of £50 million Jovic will join the ranks of players on the fringes of the Real Madrid first team. Nothing we have seen early on in his career at the club suggests otherwise.

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Is this Real Madrid’s strongest lineup for next season?

With Zinedine Zidane now settled back in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu, he has some decisions to make regarding Real Madrid’s strongest eleven for the coming season.

Incoming stars like Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic will most certainly be taking their place in the starting lineup in what could be a 4-3-3 formation for the Spanish giants.

Goalkeeper

Zidane seems to prefer Keylor Navas as a first-choice goalkeeper. However, with the Costa Rican international now 32, Zidane may decide to opt for Thibaut Courtois this season with the Belgian only 27 and entering what should be the ‘prime years’ of his career. Continue reading

Three possible summer transfer deals for FC Barcelona

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The summer transfer window is a little way off yet, but as Barcelona already showed with their capture of Frenkie De Jong, the Catalans are in the mood to do business.

Traditionally, they like to get their transfers done in the early part of the window in order to allow their new signings to bed in before pre-season, though there are exceptions as we saw with Malcom last summer.

It’s entirely possible that the Brazilian will be one of those moved on, so let’s take a look at three transfers that the Blaugrana could be involved in come July 1. Continue reading

Three Players Juventus Should Sign in The Summer

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With Juventus on the brink of Champions League elimination after a number of unimpressive performances, it’s time for a squad overhaul. While Aaron Ramsey is a good start at addressing their woeful midfield, the Welshman alone will not be enough to propel the bianconeri to European glory. In defence, Juventus’ core is getting old with Leonardo Bonucci showing signs of wear and tear. Daniele Rugani, by contrast, has frankly not lived up to the hype and has proven to be nothing more than a luxury option off the bench. Up top, on the other hand, it’s time Juventus sign a young, link-up target man, as Dybala, Ronaldo and Mandzukic have been an awkward fit for one another. Here are three players Paratici should have at the top of his wish-list.

1) Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)

Matthijs de Ligt needs no introduction and is without a doubt Europe’s top young defender at the moment. If you look up the definition of leader in the dictionary, the young Dutchman’s face will pop up. After having won the Golden Boy award in 2018, becoming the first defender to ever win the award, de Ligt has gone from strength to strength.

Right now, de Ligt is Ajax’s rock at the back, and is captaining the side deep into the Champions League, past European supergiants and reigning champions Real Madrid. Just last month, the 19-year-old became the youngest ever player to captain his side in a Champions League knockout clash, and has not looked one bit out of place.

While competition for the defender’s signature will be at an all-time high, Paratici and co. must go all out and sign de Ligt. If it takes 80 million euros, then so be it. With Chiellini, Bonucci and Barzagli on the wrong side of 30, it’s time to refresh their backline, and what better place to start than with de Ligt. Despite his age, the Dutchman is arguably already in the top ten defenders in the world, and must emerge as a priority for the bianconeri. Otherwise, Juventus’ elite defence of the past will become nothing but a distant memory.

2) Tanguy NDombele (Lyon)

For the past two seasons, Juventus’ midfield has held the side back in Europe’s elite competition and cannot be ignored come summertime. With Ramsey already on his way on a bosman transfer, Lyon’s Tanguy NDombele would be an ideal fit alongside Juventus’ current options.

NDombele is a one-man midfield, and has consistently proven he can cut it at the highest level, especially in Lyon’s most recent clash against Barcelona. Much like de Ligt,the Lyon midfielder does not let his inexperience seep into his play, and largely dominates proceedings as if he’s a seasoned veteran in the middle of the park.

Alongside Ramsey and Pjanic, the Frenchman would be able to express himself freely and offer some much needed creativity without sacrificing industry. Right now, Blaise Matuidi and Emre Can have looked out of place in Allegri’s setup, and have proven to be far too limited for elite football.

Considering Paratici will have to deal with notorious negotiator, Lyon president and French businessman Jean-Michel Aulas, it won’t be easy. In any case, NDombele is Juventus’ best option to rebuild their midfield, both in the short-term and in the long-run.

3) Luka Jovic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 

This one is a bit trickier for Paratici. Safe to say, Ronaldo hasn’t yet blended in with Mandzukic and Dybala, despite his impressive goalscoring record, and Juventus require an all-round support striker to get the best out of him. At Real Madrid, Benzema acted as the Portuguese superstar’s foil.

With Mandzukic showing signs of slowing down, it may be time for Juventus to start looking at younger options up top. Since making the switch to Germany, Jovic has improved all aspects of his game and has developed into a real force to be reckoned with, scoring 21 goals and registering five assists in all competitions.

With Jovic alongside Ronaldo and Dybala behind them, whoever’s at the helm of Juventus, could recreate Zidane’s blueprint at Real Madrid and get the side scoring freely again. While it may not be an immediate need, Juventus will not have Ronaldo forever and must make the most of his presence while he’s in Turin. Jovic would go a long way in this respect.

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