Jovic concerns continue after another disjointed Real Madrid display

By Sports Desk October 19, 2019

Luka Jovic has found it hard to kick-start his Real Madrid career and Saturday's LaLiga defeat to Real Mallorca showed how much work the striker still has to do.

The 21-year-old, a reported €50million signing from Eintracht Frankfurt in the transfer window, has struggled to make an impact under Zinedine Zidane thanks largely to the continued good form of Karim Benzema.

Speaking on Friday, Zidane insisted Jovic was "not discouraged" at having previously started just two LaLiga matches and promised the forward would be given his chance.

He duly was for the visit to Son Moix, where Madrid's unbeaten start to the league season came to an end thanks to a fine first-half goal from Lago Junior seven minutes in.

Jovic started alongside Benzema in attack as Zidane made a number of changes, most likely with one eye on next Tuesday's Champions League trip to Galatasaray, but the two-pronged attack was a blunt one.

In his 66 minutes on the pitch, Jovic failed to have a shot or a single touch in the Mallorca penalty area, created no chances for team-mates and touched the ball just 25 times overall.

He only exchanged four passes with Benzema, too, highlighting just how much of a disconnect there was between the strikers on a day where Madrid's final ball was far too often wayward.

This was Mallorca's first win over Madrid in LaLiga since May 2009 and their first at home since February 2006, while it ended Madrid's unbeaten domestic run to leave them a point behind leaders Barcelona after nine matches.

The return of injured stars such as Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale will be welcome, but finding a way to spark Jovic into life might be a more pressing concern.

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    If they are unsuccessful, Sevilla's Jules Kounde is next on the list.

     

    TOP STORY – CITY NOT GIVING UP KOULIBALY

    Manchester City are still in talks with Napoli to sign star defender Kalidou Koulibaly, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano.

    City have been tipped to sign Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

    However, City are yet to reach an agreement with Napoli and Sevilla's Jules Kounde is the "backup option" but a bid has already been turned down.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Romano says Wolves will complete the signing of Barcelona full-back Nelson Semedo on Monday. It comes as Barca eye Ajax defender Sergino Dest or Real Betis' Emerson to replace Semedo. Norwich City's Max Aarons has also been linked.

    Milan have made Fiorentina's Nikola Milenkovic their number one defensive target ahead of Celtic centre-back Kristoffer Ajer, reports the Daily Record.

    - Calciomercato claims Juventus are eyeing Real Madrid full-back Marcelo. The Brazilian has been repeatedly linked with a Cristiano Ronaldo reunion in Turin.

    - The Telegraph says PSG are interested in Tottenham's Dele Alli. Out of favour under Jose Mourinho, Spurs are reportedly targeting Manchester United's Jesse Lingard as a replacement.

    Roma remain interested in Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik but Madrid outcast Luka Jovic has emerged as 'Plan B', according to Calciomercato.

    Leeds United are out of the race to sign Dinamo Zagreb sensation Josko Gvardiol, reports Romano. Wanted by Marcelo Bielsa, the Croatian teenager is now set for Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig.

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    "We evaluated the Suarez option when it was proposed to us. He was in the process of getting Italian citizenship, so we evaluated the possibility of registering him in time.

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    While Suarez is off the list, Juve – led by rookie head coach Andrea Pirlo – continue to be linked with Roma's Dzeko.

    Dzeko's proposed move to Juve is reportedly tied to Roma signing Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik as a replacement in the Italian capital.

    Amid uncertainty over this future, Dzeko was an unused substitute in Roma's goalless draw at Hellas Verona on Saturday.

    "Let's say there isn't a Dzeko situation, it's a striker situation, as Juventus need a centre-forward," Paratici said as Juve reportedly try to re-sign Moise Kean from Everton. "We know what we want and are working towards that calmly, there are 15 days to go in the transfer window and we're in no rush.

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  • Zidane defends Jovic snub, backs Odegaard to improve Madrid Zidane defends Jovic snub, backs Odegaard to improve Madrid

    Zinedine Zidane insists he does not have any issue with Luka Jovic despite deciding not to turn to the striker in Real Madrid's goalless draw at Real Sociedad.

    Jovic has struggled at the Santiago Bernabeu since his arrival from Eintracht Frankfurt last year, scoring just twice in LaLiga last season.

    The 22-year-old has been linked with a transfer in recent months but was named in the champions' matchday squad for their league opener at Sociedad.

    However, even as Madrid struggled to break down their stubborn hosts, Zidane did not look to Jovic, instead handing debuts to Marvin Park and Sergio Arribas.

    Zidane explained: "I have many players. Today I have chosen like this.

    "I have nothing against Jovic, nor against any player. I did not want to change the picture and that's why I changed the wingers."

    One young player who is now getting his chance under Zidane is Martin Odegaard, who was recalled after a season on loan with Sociedad.

    Odegaard made his full league debut for Madrid in an advanced midfield role and Zidane saw cause for optimism.

    "I'm happy with his debut," Zidane said. "He has no knee discomfort, which is the important thing.

    "It is the first game and we have only had three weeks [of pre-season]. Little by little we will improve with Odegaard.

    "We have to be calm with everyone. We missed the goal, but we have to be calm."

    It was also a big day for experienced centre-back Raphael Varane, with Madrid in competitive action for the first time since his dismal display at Manchester City saw them eliminated from the Champions League in early August.

    "What happened in Manchester can happen," Zidane said. "We know the players we have, and all the defenders today have done very well.

    "We have only conceded one shot on target. This is the work of all the players, who defend very well. Now we are going to think about doing things better in attack."

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