Real Madrid: A reason to believe Luka Jovic’s stock has fallen further

Real Madrid, Luka Jovic (Photo by Ricardo Nogueira/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images )
Real Madrid, Luka Jovic (Photo by Ricardo Nogueira/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images ) /

Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic received regular playing time to start the season, but he’s been an afterthought since then.

It’s almost hard to believe Real Madrid paid 60 million euros to sign Luka Jovic just one year ago with how little Zinedine Zidane has played the striker.

Jovic was one of European football’s breakout stars in 2018-2019 for Eintracht Frankfurt, scoring 27 goals as one of the Bundesliga’s and Europa League’s most prolific attacking players. Now, he can barely get on the pitch for Los Blancos.

The 22-year-old has appeared in a mere five games this season. He started in back-to-back La Liga matches against Real Betis and Real Valladolid, playing reasonably well. Then, he started in the disastrous loss to Shakhtar Donetsk and has never started since, only getting seven minutes off the bench in the 4-1 loss to Valencia.

But in that Valencia loss, he wasn’t the first striker off the bench. In fact, he didn’t directly replace Karim Benzema, who came off in the 76th minute with an apparent injury.

Mariano Diaz was chosen before Luka Jovic against Valencia

Instead, it was Mariano Diaz, who was supposed to leave this summer on a permanent transfer or loan with an option to buy, who replaced Benzema.

According to MARCA’s Juan Ignacio Garcia-Ochoa, Mariano has “dislodged” Luka Jovic as the second-choice striker behind Benzema, and he uses this example of Zidane’s decision to sub in Mariano over Jovic.

It’s hard to say if Mariano has taken over for Jovic, but it isn’t far-fetched to think so. Borja Mayoral may have been favored over Jovic by Zidane. And earlier this year before Mariano ran into fitness concerns due to lost weight after a bout with tonsilitis, he had risen above Jovic and dazzled with his substitute goal in El Clasico.

Jovic is falling further and further behind, and each report and each game without a start seems to indicate that Real Madrid and its manager no longer view the striker as a key part of the future. They may already have eyes on Erling Haaland and may simply see Mariano as a better immediate, goal-scoring option.

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But let’s also praise Mariano. Jovic hasn’t been bad at all on the pitch, but Mariano has outplayed him whenever given a chance. He was a lone bright spot in those final minutes at the Mestalla, as he always works incredibly hard for the team. Whenever he is on the pitch, he plays with everything he has, and that may be the biggest reason why Los Blancos favor him as the top backup to their best goal-scorer in Benzema.