Is Luka Jovic ready to fulfil huge potential?
Luka Jovic has been mentioned as a hot prospect for several years now. Enthusiasts of the Football Manager and FIFA franchises will have understood the striker's potential during that time. They've been waiting patiently for him to break out as the game's next big star.
Jovic was born in a small village named Batar, which lies within the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. From a young age, he played football in the Serbian city, Loznica. Due to being among the better players in his age group, the youngster was soon invited to play development matches in the nation's capital. He was soon snapped up by Red Star Belgrade as an eight-year-old.
Jovic went through Red Star's youth system, although there was interest from city rivals Partizan. He set many goal-scoring records along the way until working into the first team aged 16. In May 2014, on debut, he became the club's youngest ever player to score when netting against Vojvodina.
Red Star knew they had a future world-beater in their midst. Club director Zvezdan Terzic famously said Jovic would become Europe's best striker, comparing him to Colombian star Radamel Falcao. The Serb giants turned down various offers before eventually allowing him to join Benfica in 2016 for just under £6 million.
Jovic never really got given a chance in Portugal. He played just 40 minutes of first-grade football. His record with Benfica's B team wasn't much better, scoring only four goals in 18 games. As a result, it was decided he would move on a two-year loan to Eintracht Frankfurt in time for the 2017/18 season.
Image by Oleg Bkhambri (Voltmetro)
Jovic finally began to turn his career around in Germany. Scoring eight league goals last season was a good return considering he only played 927 minutes. The Bijeljina-born frontman has upped the ante again this campaign, finding the net twice in both the Bundesliga and Europa League before last Friday. Then came the encounter against Fortuna Dusseldorf.
If fans had been waiting for a pivotal moment from Jovic, it arrived in style at the Commerzbank-Arena eight days ago. His performance lit up the stadium. He grabbed a five-goal haul as Eintracht ran out 7-1 winners, leaving him level with Paco Alcacer as the Bundesliga's current top marksman on seven strikes.
Jovic became the youngest player to score five times in a German top-flight game. He has bettered legends such as Robert Lewandowski, Jurgen Klinsmann and Gerd Muller. Perhaps even more impressive, the Serb now averages a Bundesliga goal every 82 minutes, surpassing both Lewandowski, 112, and Muller, 105.
Most observers will rightly point to the fact that Muller and Lewandowski both scored a lot more goals while maintaining those high standards for much longer than Jovic has. However, at only 20 years old, the latter's record is sensational. Eintracht will now look to sign him on a permanent deal. A fee, believed to be around £5.3 million, has already been agreed with Benfica to own his registration.
Jovic's limit is still unclear. Nobody can doubt his potential, though. He has had a lot of pressure piled on from a young age, with comparisons to Red Star legend Darko Pancev. While Benfica was a setback, the youngster, who already has two caps for Serbia, seems to have found his home in Germany.
Playing for Eintracht, Jovic will continue to receive regular minutes. That can only help as he aims to fulfil Terzic's prophecy of becoming the best striker in Europe.