Transfers

Twenty to watch in 2019/20: Dejan Joveljić

 • by Sam McGuire
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To say Eintracht Frankfurt have a type would be an understatement. More often than not, clubs have a clear profile in mind when they’re looking to replace a departed player.

After losing Luka Jović to Real Madrid, Adi Hütter’s team needed a striker who outperformed their expected goals. They needed a penalty box poacher but one who wouldn’t eat into the €60million they banked from selling the 21-year-old Serbian hotshot.

Ideally, they would clone Jović. They instead signed his doppelgänger. Dejan Joveljić.

The 19-year-old joined from Red Star Belgrade, Jović’s old club, in a deal worth €4million. A similar name and a comparable start to his career, Joveljić was also born in the same city as his compatriot, in Bijeljina, Bosnia.

The comparisons between the two don’t end off the pitch, either. Joveljić, like Jović, is a predator. Despite his tender years, he’s already perfected the craft of being in the right place at the right time.

A natural finisher, everything about his play in the area is instinctive with the one sole aim to put the ball into the back of the net. Of course, strikers are all paid to do that but only a handful have the hunger which sees them score goals in unconventional ways. Joveljić is part of this exclusive club.

He showcased that skill to score his first goal for Eintracht Frankfurt in their Europa League clash against Flora.

His positive movement in the penalty area meant he was able to get onto the end of a cross ahead of the goalkeeper to nod home. It was nothing special but his desire to get there first risked injury. He could’ve collided with the goalkeeper or the post, yet dipped in to fire home the winner.

In some ways, it was similar to Jović’s goal against Borussia Dortmund in February. A cross was whipped in from the right and the Eintracht Frankfurt No.8 lunged at the ball, karate kick style, with his right foot to guide it home.

It wasn’t a finish you often see but it was one driven by hunger to connect with it first. It’s why Jović  was courted by the best in Europe; he’s an elite chance-getter and a clinical finisher. Joveljić has the same aura.

Though the 19-year-old doesn’t do as much as his compatriot outside of the box, they share an unnerving amount of similarities when inside the area. Last season, Joveljić averaged close to 0.9 goals per 90 from an expected goals average of 0.65. World-class forwards tend to better this metric, as Jović did while at Eintracht Frankfurt.

But the key stat when looking at young forwards is their expected goals return. It shows just how good these players are at getting into dangerous areas on a regular basis. It’s an important metric to look at because even if the goals dry up, it shows whether or not they’re still going to be a threat.

Everything about Joveljić’s numbers suggests everything is sustainable.

The sample size isn’t the largest but he was still averaging 2.78 shots per 90 and 5.89 touches in the penalty area. He averaged just 0.3 shots from outside the area showing he’s an intelligent forward who knows efforts in the box are of higher value.

To put it bluntly, 42 per cent of his touches in the area were shots.

He’s exactly the sort of player Eintracht Frankfurt needed to replace Jović and his goal threat.

With Sébastien Haller now a West Ham United player, too, Hütter’s attack is completely different from the one which terrorised teams last season. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be as destructive.

If they’re going to go far in the Europa League again, as well as push for a European spot in the Bundesliga, then the 19-year-old is going to be instrumental to those aspirations.

If the attack is built around him, Joveljić could be one of the surprises of the season. Not just in the Bundesliga but across the top five leagues in Europe.

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