Luka Jovic’s Real Madrid struggles assessed
Real Madrid appeared to be putting a succession plan in place when they signed Luka Jovic from Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer of 2019.
With Karim Benzema set to turn 32 later that year, it made sense for Zinedine Zidane to start looking to the future, bringing in a player capable of eventually taking over from his influential fellow Frenchman.
A fee in excess of £50m represented a huge profit for Frankfurt, who had signed the player from Benfica by activating a clause in a loan deal just months earlier.
However, given the player’s age and potential, that looked like potentially smart business for Real, too.
In the two seasons prior to his departure for the Santiago Bernabeu, Jovic had scored 25 goals in 54 Bundesliga appearances, with just 34 of those coming as starts.
Unfortunately, he has been unable to transfer that form to La Liga, scoring just twice in 21 appearances for Real Madrid since his big-money move.
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Luka Jovic’s worrying stats
It is a drop-off visible in Jovic’s underlying numbers. In his first season in Frankfurt, the striker clocked up 0.74 xG on average per game, following that up with a still-impressive 0.56 the following year.
However, last season that figure dropped again to 0.46, and in four outings this term he has produced just 0.38 xG per 90 minutes.
It isn’t that Jovic is failing to get shots off, with an average of three per game last term not too far behind figures of 3.9 and 3.7 in the seasons prior.
And the graph below shows that he was, in fact, rated among the better forwards in the Spanish top-flight last term, despite failing to convince Zidane to play him more frequently.
Jovic is, though, seeing a lot less of the ball in the penalty box, a part of the pitch where we would be expected to do his best work.
In 2018-19, the striker touched the ball 6.1 times per game in the opposition area on average. At Madrid last season, that dropped to just 3.4.
As the SciSports graph below shows, Jovic may well be suffering as a result of the fact his team-mates are used to playing off a more mobile attacking focal point.
Benzema’s strength lies in opening space for others with unselfish movements and an ability to drift across the defensive line, whereas his fellow striker has acted as more of a penalty box poacher since arriving in Spain.
Consequently, it could well be the case that Jovic’s career could be quickly set back on track by a move to a team capable of playing more to his strengths, with a return to the Bundesliga perhaps the most sensible mvove.
As things stand, it does not look like a revival in Madrid is on the cards anytime soon.