Real Madrid forward Luka Jovic may have found his escape route from the Bernabeu via a move back to Eintracht Frankfurt on loan.
Goal reports that Serbia forward Jovic is set to switch back to the club at which he was so prolific during his previous stint. It will be a loan move, but it will allow Madrid to clear some of his wages off the books.
West Ham and Wolves had also been linked with a move for the striker, but it is back to the Bundesliga he will go in a bid to rediscover the level that saw Madrid pay €60 million (£54m) for his services just 18 months ago.
When Madrid swooped to sign him, Jovic was one of the hottest properties in the European game, having scored 27 goals in 48 matches in Frankfurt.
He did not find the net in La Liga until the 11th game of last term. When he did score, it was Madrid’s fifth in a 5-0 rout of Leganes. Since then, the only time he has found the net was a stoppage-time fourth in a 4-1 win over Osasuna. In short, Jovic has not scored a goal of consequence for Los Blancos.
If that debut season was tough, his sophomore campaign has been even more trouble plagued.
A combination of injury, illness and loss of form has restricted him to only five appearances. He has featured for only 208 minutes for Zinedine Zidane’s side and has not contributed a goal or an assist.
As Madrid seek to cut their wage bill, Jovic is one of the players who is set to depart.
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What Jovic’s departure will mean for Real Madrid
Karim Benzema remains Real Madrid’s undisputed No.9 of choice. A favourite of Zinedine Zidane, he is the sole surviving member of the forward line that won three successive Champions Leagues. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale have both moved on to Juventus and Tottenham (on loan) respectively.
Jovic had been signed to challenge him, though that clearly has not materialised.
Mariano Diaz, who had been tipped to depart, is now likely to remain at the Bernabeu until the summer.
Mariano has also had a difficult 18 months since arriving from Lyon in the summer of 2019. He is, however, a cheaper option and in greater favour with Zidane.
While Jovic has been peripheral, Mariano has featured off the bench in the past couple of matches.
Another possibility, though, is that 29-year-old Cedric Bakambu moves from Beijing Guoan to the Bernabeu.
A prolific scorer with the likes of Bursaspor and Villarreal, as a back-up option, he could be an attractive proposition. Critically, he too would come at a cheaper rate than Jovic.
If it was a move that materialised, it would be reminiscent of Manchester United’s deal to sign Odion Ighalo from Shanghai Shenhau a year ago.
Jovic, meanwhile, will need to show exceptional form in the Bundesliga if he has a chance of cracking the Real Madrid team when he returns.