Luka Jovic 18 Striker Benfica Serbia
Free scoring teenage striker that attracted the attention of clubs across Europe after making an impact at Red Star Belgrade.
Born in the village of Batar near Bijeljina in Bosnia in 1997, Jović was spotted at a young age by scouts from both Partizan and Red Star and was invited to make the journey to Belgrade to make a choice between the two famous clubs. Despite Partizan offering a higher salary and further payments to his family, the youngster opted for Red Star and went on to become a prolific marksman for their youth team.
In May 2014, aged just 16, Jović appeared as a substitute to make his first team debut against FK Vojvodina. Securing a late equaliser within minutes of arriving on the pitch, the striker broke Dejan Stanković's record as the youngest goalscorer in the club's history. The final score of 3–3 was enough to give Red Star the 2013–14 Serbian SuperLiga title and earn Jović iconic status despite playing less than twenty minutes for the first team.
The 2014-15 season saw Jović feature frequently, mostly as a substitute, but further goals did not arrive until the tail end of the campaign. At junior international level, however, he remained prolific, enhancing his standing as one of the most exciting upcoming strikers in European football. Intelligent positioning, strength and a wicked shot with both feet are traits that will continue to develop as the years pass.
2016 has been...
Moving on. Featuring more regularly than before for Red Star, Jović scored five times in nineteen appearances as his side hit outstanding form, dropping only four points from a possible 66 in the opening half of the 2015-16 Serbian Superliga campaign. With strong interest from Dortmund and Juventus reported in the media, Jović moved to Benfica along with Partizan's Andrija Živković at the start of the year, following a well worn path from Belgrade to Lisbon.
The similarities to Živković's move are more than just circumstantial. Both players were part owned by the Cypriot club Apollon Limassol, which appears to be nothing more than a vehicle for agent Pini Zahavi and business partner Fali Ramadani to circumnavigate FIFA's third party ownership laws. Unlike Živković's move, Jović's transfer went far more smoothly with both Red Star and Apollon receiving around €2.5m for the striker, a sum total which barely helps the cash strapped Belgrade club but is likely to be especially beneficial to Benfica in the long term if Jović fulfils his undoubted potential. So far this year Jović has featured regularly for the Benfica B team in the Ledman Liga Pro and is very much in a learning phase of his career.
We're always very cynical when exciting young players move to European giants too early in their career but there is an element of exception to the rule in this particular example, despite Jović's lack of first team opportunities in Portugal. There is no doubt that Benfica's relationship with third party dealers stinks but that is how the club are able to operate and they are not alone in Portugal in this respect. The two big Belgrade clubs need cash, a third party provides a short term fix but the trade off is a suppressed transfer value when a move occurs.
From the Serbian clubs perspective, in order to function, junior coaching has to be right on point, a facet that will eventually serve Serbia very well on the international stage. Similarly, unable to compete with the revenues available to big clubs in other leagues, Benfica - and see also Porto and Sporting in this - rely heavily on sales. It's in their best interests to help Jović fully realise his potential so that they can make a significant return on their initial outlay.
To that end, Jović is in the right place. Things may remain quiet for a while yet, but it can only be a matter of time until he explodes into life.
C Stay tuned
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