Once hailed the next Roberto Baggio in his ACF Fiorentina playing days, Stevan Jovetić is a striker able to play all across the front line. His incredible playmaking skills and pace allows him to thrive as a secondary striker and has warranted many ‘big-money’ moves to clubs like Manchester City. However at 27 he his approaching the prime age for a footballer and is finding his career has stagnated. With only 5 appearances for Inter Milan in the first half of the 2016-2017 season, with no goals or assists, Inter manager Stefano Pioli had clearly lost faith in the attacker.
Since then, Jovetić has moved to Sevilla on loan and has had a lightning start to life with Jorge Sampaoli, scoring 3 and assisting 1 goal in 4 appearances; even managing to score against Real Madrid in 2 different competitions, the Copa del Rey and La Liga. So what has changed to convert the barren run to a purple patch?
Looking back to 2013, Jovetić moved to Manchester City on the back of scoring 26 goals in the Serie A season. However, an injury hit 2 years, restricting him to just 18 starts, forced him out to Roberto Mancini’s Inter Milan. Just as the striker seemed to be rediscovering his form, Mancini left the club and Jovetić spent the rest of the 2016 on the bench with Ivan Perišić and Gabriel Barbosa pushing him further down the pecking order.
In short, his recent managers did not understand the talented trequartista. In Man City, Sergio Kun Aguero took the striker position with Jesús Navas and Raheem Sterling playing wingers. Jovetić was not able to play his natural game with such a rigid formation; he was not suited to the low intensity pressing game and was isolated in the middle with Sterling and Navas only running the channels. It was the same story in Inter Milan with only the personnel changing. Pioli and Frank De Boer both preferred Mauro Icardi as the striker and relegating Jovetić to a supporting winger or expecting him to fill the back-up ‘lone striker’ role.
However Jorge Sampaoli knows exactly what he will get from the Montenegrin. His fast- attacking and pressing game perfectly suits Jovetić, allowing the striker to play his natural playmaking and poaching game. Sampaoli chooses to play a 4-4-2 when the team needs to defend. Jovetić is the first line of pressing, which allows him to use his pace quickly to close down defenders but conserve energy to attack by having no or minimal responsibilities to track back. Going forward the 4 front players are given freedom to unleash a lethal counter-attack, with Vitolo and Samir Nasri running behind the defence and Wissam Ben Yedder and Jovetić, playing off each other, waiting in the middle to pounce on a cross or a loose ball. The dynamism visible between these 4, and Franco Vazquez when he plays, is clear to see and analyzing the goal scored by Jovetić against Espanyol recently shows the devastating effect it can have.
Jovetić is undoubtedly a talented goal scorer and is in a rich vein of form. He seems to fit right in as the last piece of the jigsaw in Sampaoli’s masterplan. But, is this what Sevilla require to push Real Madrid for the title?
Spanish Football Expert