After spending at least a week in heated negotiations for Arkadiusz Milik, Edin Dzeko's ostensible replacement, only to see that deal disappear thanks to Aurelio De Laurentiis’ insistence on Milik repaying a personal licensing fine to the Napoli president, Roma quickly shifted their focus from finding Dzeko's replacement to merely finding a suitable backup. And for the past few days, most presumed Roma’s new understudy would be Real Madrid's Borja Mayoral, a 23-year-old forward who spent the past two seasons on loan with Levante.
While Roma and Real Madrid may yet come together on a deal, it won't be for Mayoral, who Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane views as an ideal backup for Karim Benzema. But, according to Il Tempo, Zidane is willing to part with a slightly more notable and slightly more exciting striker prospect: Luka Jovic.
Il #RealMadrid blocca la trattativa per #BorjaMayoral e apre in maniera importante per il prestito di Luka #Jovic: palla in mano alla #ASRoma, che valuta i costi dell'operazione. Intanto il #Leicester ci prova per #Ibanezhttps://t.co/XD9WgMoK66 pic.twitter.com/HXHmL54lGo— Filippo Biafora (@Fil_Biafora) September 29, 2020
According to Filippo Biafora and Alessandro Austini of Il Tempo, Madrid have reportedly offered Luka Jovic on loan to Roma for one year. Jovic, a 22-year-old Serbian forward, moved to Madrid in the summer of 2019 on a €60 million move from Eintracht Frankfurt, for whom he scored 27 goals and chipped in six assists in all competitions during the 2018-2019 season.
However, as is so often the case with young players who make mega money moves to either Spanish giant, things haven't exactly gone according to plan. Jovic's first season in the Spanish capital was plagued by minor injuries, inconsistencies on the pitch and one flagrant violation of Coronavirus quarantine guidelines. All told, Jovic mustered up only 500 some odd minutes in a Madrid shirt last season, scoring two goals and providing one assist.
While Madrid bandied Jovic's name about the transfer market earlier this summer, many clubs were scared off by the €10 million loan cost, not to mention Jovic's high wages, believed to be €4.5 million net—the same as Dzeko, Roma's top earner. However, Il Tempo reports that Madrid will “significantly” lower that cost, while his salary could potentially be partially covered and/or pro-rated three months by Madrid.
And with word that The Friedkin Group rebuffed a similar offer from Arsenal for Alexandre Lacazette due to the high costs, Roma's new owners appear to be very budget conscious at the moment. But if Madrid are truly as motivated to find a temporary home for Jovic as they appear, this could be a fantastic signing for all parties involved.
Jovic won't be an immediate starter for Roma, but he has enough experience and potential to carve out a role with the Giallorossi, somewhere along the “Run Edin Dzeko into the ground and freeze out Nikola Kalinic” spectrum.
Despite not being quite as massive as Dzeko, Jovic does enough Dzeko-like things to ensure Roma can play a similar style of football when either striker is on the pitch, but he's a bit pacier and a bit sneakier than Dzeko, so he could enable Fonseca to offer slightly different looks to the opposition.
As you can see, Dzeko and Jovic offer a pretty similar playing profile, but, at least based on their last full seasons (‘19-’20 for Dzeko and ‘18-’19 for Jovic), Jovic is a more accurate and more efficient shooter, besting Dzeko in shot accuracy and shot conversion—which, as we just saw last weekend, can be the difference between three points and no points (or one point).
If Roma are looking for a young, slightly pacier striker with something to prove this season, there may not be better options than Luka Jovic, particularly with the transfer window closing in less than a week.