Transfer Talk: Madrid flop Jovic could be Real deal for Hammers
Just three years after splashing £45million on Sebastien Haller, West Ham are interested in his old Eintracht Frankfurt strike partner.
Luka Jovic left the German outfit in 2019 for Real Madrid in a high-profile switch.
But after just two seasons and as many goals, the LaLiga giants are looking to move the Serbian international, 23, on to raise funds.
Due to Real's dire financial situation, Jovic is available for just £35m this summer — a knockdown price for someone of his quality.
After cutting their losses on Haller in January, the Hammers need a forward to spearhead their return to Europe.
Ahead of their first game of the season against Newcastle, we assess whether Jovic is that player.
For the majority of last season, Michail Antonio led the line for the Hammers.
Despite not being a natural No9, the 31-year-old did a stellar job by scoring 10 times in a season hampered by injuries.
Without Antonio, West Ham became reliant on goals from midfielders, predominantly Tomas Soucek and Jesse Lingard, who starred during his loan spell from Manchester United.
In fact, club's next highest-scoring striker was Haller with seven — all of which came in the first half of the season.
With Lingard back with United, boss David Moyes must find another regular source of goals as his squad prepare to compete on four fronts.
Just the Jov
During his time at Frankfurt, Jovic formed a deadly partnership with former Haller — the duo struck a combined 49 times across two Bundesliga seasons in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
His two-footed ability, as well as impressive aerial prowess ,helped him bag 27 goals in all competitions during the latter of those two campaigns.
Ten of those goals came in the Europa League as the Serb helped Frankfurt mount an impressive run to the semi-finals, where they were only halted by eventual winners Chelsea.
Deceptively strong and good in the air, Jovic is also a nippy, mobile forward who can sit on the shoulder of the last defender.
His pedigree in the Europa League will be a big selling point for the East Londoners as they seek to bolster a squad short on players with significant European experience.
Back to goal
A crucial attribute for any West Ham striker is the ability to play with their back to goal.
Antonio was extremely effective doing so last term, holding up play long enough for willing runners to burst into space and pick opposition sides apart on the counter-attack.
In fact, over the course of the season, West Ham were second in the Premier League for goals scored from fast breaks (six).
Jovic also excels in this area, successfully receiving 8.34 progressive passes per 90 last season — demonstrating his ability to collect long balls and hold off defenders.
While all Premier League forwards need to be prepared for a physical battle, such a skill set is a near mandatory requirement at the London Stadium.
Jovic’s time at Real Madrid might serve as a deterrent for potential suitors — but that should not be the case.
Despite being signed for big money, Jovic has not been given a consistent run of games and has started just six times in LaLiga in two seasons.
With Karim Benzema already established as Los Blancos’ No9 and Real typically playing a 4-3-3 system, it was always going to be tough to oust the Frenchman.
Real Madrid are also notoriously impatient — and Jovic arrived during a summer of significant change.
It was not the environment for a young forward in which to flourish.
With European football at the London Stadium for the first time, West Ham are in desperate need of reinforcements for what could become a gruelling schedule.
Jovic’s profile looks to be a great fit for Moyes' system and the Serb would add some much-needed consistency at the top end of the pitch considering Antonio’s injury problems.
The only stumbling block in a potential deal is Jovic’s wage demands, reported to be £163k per week.
But if the Hammers can strike an agreement with player and club, they will have an exciting young forward who could be a good fit for their system.