Finally a worthy Ronaldo replacement? Why Jovic can be the man to save Real Madrid

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Zinedine Zidane's side need to improve their goalscoring return in 2019-20, but look to have found the natural-born killer they need in attack

In the 2017-18 La Liga season Real Madrid scored 94 goals, but this was down to 63 in 2018-19 as Los Blancos went through multiple managers. Julen Lopetegui, Santiago Solari and finally Zinedine Zidane all attempted to make up that 31-goal void, but could not magic goals out of nothing.

Coincidentally, but also tellingly, 31 was the number of goals Cristiano Ronaldo was involved in during his final league season in Madrid, scoring 26 times and assisting on five more goals.

Mariano Diaz was bought for €30 million (£27m/$35m) and inherited Ronaldo's number seven shirt, but had none of the traits of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, finishing the season with just three league goals. Madrid were able to convince Zidane to return to Real, but replacing Ronaldo's goals still remains their biggest priority.

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Karim Benzema was far and away the club's most potent player, finishing with 30 goals in all competitions, his second-best season in 10 years at Santiago Bernabeu. He scored exactly a third of Real's goals in La Liga, finishing with 21. No other player finished in double figures.

The French forward turns 32 this year, so is approaching the end of his career and the end of his successful spell in Madrid. He can still be relied upon by Zidane, but the coach needed someone new to take over and provide the goals the team has been desperately lacking.

Enter Luka Jovic.

On Tuesday, Eintracht Frankfurt confirmed the Serbian striker is joining Madrid this summer on a five-year contract, pending a successful medical.

The 21-year-old is seen by Zidane as a possible partner for Benzema like Ronaldo was, or even as a lone striker thanks to his excellent all-round ability and hold-up play.

Luka Jovic Eintracht Frankfurt 2018-19

However, he won't come cheap for Los Blancos, with Eintracht Frankfurt receiving around €70m (£62m/$79m) for his services after signing him for just a tenth of that price from Benfica.

Jovic helped Eintracht reach the semi-final of the Europa League last season, where they were only beaten on penalties by eventual winners Chelsea. He was the competition's second top scorer, with 10 goals in 14 games. He also finished joint-third in the top scorer race in the Bundesliga, netting 17 times in 32 games for Frankfurt as they qualified for the Europa League once more.

As a result, it is not surprising that Zidane singled the young forward out as the player who can bring goals back to Santiago Bernabeu. Frankfurt legend Jan-Age Fjortoft has watched Jovic up close on many occasions and believes he will be the perfect fit at the Liga giants, backing him to improve even more with better players around him.

"He is one of the most talented young strikers in the world at the moment," Fjortoft told Goal. "Those kinds of clubs should always be interested in those kinds of players. Jovic has scored more than 20 goals, he's young, he's powerful.

"He will certainly develop even more. He will get more mature. He is a guy that will score goals wherever he goes. Being in a team like this, he will score goals."

Jovic also assisted five goals for his team-mates in one of Europe's most dynamic attacks. Together with Ante Rebic and Sebastien Haller, they fired their way through Europe, exceeding all expectations under new head coach Adi Hutter following the departure of Niko Kovac for Bayern Munich.

The striker will find himself in a similar situation at Madrid, where strong striker Benzema could play a similar role to his partner Haller. Rebic usually slotted in behind the duo, but was given a licence to roam by Hutter, opening up defences to allow Jovic to get into space and get on the scoresheet.

Zidane's Madrid have plenty of players capable of unlocking opponents but need to be more clinical up front if they are to return to the glory days of his first spell at the club. Jovic is exactly the sort of ruthless attacker needed to be the missing link for Los Blancos. He is able to score all sorts of goals, adept with both feet or with his head, timing his runs perfectly into the area to meet crosses and even willing to shoot - and score - from long range if there are no better options available.

GFX Fjortoft on Jovic

Everyone who has played with him or against him tells the same story, describing how lethal Jovic is when the goal comes into range. Former team-mate Alexander Meier was impressed with the young Serb from the moment he arrived in Frankfurt. 

"He is the best finisher I ever played with," Meier told the Guardian. "Nobody from our team really knew him when he arrived. But in training you could see immediately that he’s just amazing in front of goal. He has everything. Heading, shooting, left foot, right foot. Inside the box he knows exactly where the ball will fall down. He was so young but already so cool and confident; you could tell he would score many times."

Former Serbia international Savo Milosevic called Jovic a "natural-born killer", while current international boss Mladen Krstajic said the forward Jovic most closely reflects is Barcelona's Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan finished with 21 La Liga goals this season beside Lionel Messi's 36. 

If Jovic can provide similar numbers at Barcelona's main rivals, then he may finally prove to be the worthy replacement Real need for Ronaldo.

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