Luka Jovic: The Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barcelona target outscoring Robert Lewandowski

"He has shown his potential from the beginning. Eintracht Frankfurt knew they had a rough diamond."

Luka Jovic celebrates after scoring for Eintracht Frankfurt

Eintracht Frankfurt loanee Luka Jovic is having a breakout season in the Bundesliga, with Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barcelona linked. But who is the 20-year-old Serb, currently outscoring Robert Lewandowski?

German publication Bild has reported that Jurgen Klopp is keeping tags on Jovic - along with Bayern Munich and Barcelona - and his recent form for Eintracht Frankfurt, where he is on loan from Benfica, has certainly boosted his profile.

Tottenham and Chelsea have also been linked with the striker who is topping the Bundesliga scoring charts, but what is his story so far?

The beginnings

Born in December 1997 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jovic spent nine years with the Red Star Belgrade youth sides before making his first-team debut in May 2014 at the age of 16. By the start of the 2015/16 season, he was starting regularly for Red Star, and scored three goals in his first five games that term.

He then sealed a move to Portuguese side Benfica in February 2016 although, after a spell with the B team, he made just two first-team appearances before moving on loan to Eintracht Frankfurt in June 2017, on a two-year deal.

It was a solid first season for the Serbia international, making 22 league appearances - nine as a starter - with eight Bundesliga goals. He also helped the team win the DFB Pokal after Eintracht Frankfurt were runners-up in 2017, with his only goal in five appearances being the winner against Schalke in the semi-finals.

Luka Jovic celebrates his goal during the DFB Pokal semi-final win against Schalke
Image: Jovic celebrates his goal during the DFB Pokal semi-final win against Schalke

But Jovic has surged into form this season with nine goals in nine Bundesliga games, making him the league's highest goalscorer ahead of well-known names like Marco Reus (8), Lewandowski (7) and Timo Werner (6). It has catapulted Eintracht Frankfurt into fourth spot - ahead of Bayern Munich on goal difference - and since Jovic scored his first league goal of the season against Hannover at the end of September, Eintracht Frankfurt are yet to lose.

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He is currently averaging a goal every 62 minutes in the Bundesliga and recently came fourth in a list of Europe's in-form stars based on Sky Sports' Power Rankings formula, only coming behind Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Luka Jovic (R) has earned three caps for Serbia
Image: Jovic has earned three caps for Serbia and featured at the 2018 World Cup

Speaking about Jovic's time in Germany so far, Sky Germany's Alexander Bonengel says: "He has shown his potential from the beginning. Eintracht Frankfurt knew they had a rough diamond that may need some time to develop and more than just on a technical level.

"He has shown a significant improvement in work ethic and attitude and has learnt to work for the whole team if he wants them to work for him. He also had strong moments in his first season that increased his self confidence. He now has more playing time in connection with his stronger attitude to work and training that has helped him to score more consistently."

Eintracht Frankfurt's sporting director Fredi Bobic also sees the potential in Jovic, telling Sky Germany: "He has outstanding skills in the box... He showed us last year what he can do and now it's his turn to show how far he can go. He has everything to become a world class player."

Five-star against Fortuna

Luka Jovic hugs Eintracht Frankfurt manager Adi Hutter after scoring five goals against Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga
Image: Jovic hugs Eintracht Frankfurt manager Adi Hutter after scoring five goals against Fortuna Dusseldorf

If any performance embodies Jovic's superb start to the season, it is his five-goal haul during Eintracht Frankfurt's 7-1 win against Fortuna Dusseldorf just over a month ago. After Sebastien Haller's opener, Jovic netted his first goal in the 26th minute and the pair barely stopped finding Dusseldorf's net, with Haller nabbing himself a double that day too.

Jovic was the first Eintracht Frankfurt player in history to net five times in a Bundesliga game, although he was modest about his achievement, telling the club's official website: "Of course, I'm delighted. It's been an emotional day. But it's not about my five goals - the team put in a sensational performance."

Jovic making history

Jovic joined a list of 15 other players to have scored five times in on Bundesliga game, with legendary players like Gerd Muller, Jupp Heynckes and Jurgen Klinsmann included.

But Jovic is the youngest to have ever achieved the feat at 20 years and 300 days old.

He also became the first Serb to score a hat-trick - and much more - in the Bundesliga.

He was also the first player since Lewandowski to score five goals in a Bundesliga game after the Pole recorded the same tally in an incredible nine-minute surge against Wolfsburg in September 2015.

Manager Adi Hutter said at the time: "It's remarkable that Luka Jovic managed to score five goals, and he's not even 21. He's obviously the man of the match, and he's penned his name into the history books, alongside players like Robert Lewandowski. It's sensational. Luka is a complete player."

Stick or twist?

With the January transfer window fast approaching and Jovic catching the eye, attention has now turned to his next move, with Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barcelona being touted as potential suitors by Bild.

Jovic's loan spell from Benfica ends in the summer, with Eintracht Frankfurt having the option of buying the player permanently, although Sky Germany's Bonengel thinks it could be hard for the Bundesliga club to keep him.

Eintracht Frankfurt striker Luka Jovic scores against Nuernberg in the Bundesliga
Image: The Serb has netted nine times in nine Bundesliga games this season

"Frankfurt has a one-sided buying option which they will most likely take. However, there seem to be some contractual things that are not clear yet. Benfica supposedly wants to participate in future when Jovic may get sold to another club," he said.

"But when he continues to perform like this, it will be hard for Eintracht Frankfurt to keep him. It's a fact that almost every top club has sent out scouts to watch him.

"However, Eintracht Frankfurt managed to keep Ante Rebic, another high-profile player for whom they could have gained a lot of money, probably between €30m and €40m, maybe even €50m. They said 'no' and maybe they could do the same with Jovic."

Luka Jovic scores one of his five goals against Fortuna Dusseldorf
Image: Jovic is currently on loan from Benfica

Of the three teams in the Bild report, Liverpool seems like the more likely option. Although not struggling up front, the Reds do lack an out-and-out striker who can be depended upon, with Divock Origi and Dominic Solanke rarely in the matchday 18 and Daniel Sturridge a perennial substitute.

Between them, they have made one Premier League start - Sturridge against Huddersfield in October - while Solanke has featured in just one Liverpool squad this season, for the EFL Cup defeat to his former side, Chelsea, when he did not make it off the bench.

There would be plenty of competition for a starting spot, though, with the current attacking prowess of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane - as well as a good start to life at Anfield from Xherdan Shaqiri - meaning Jovic would have to prove himself all over again.

"His development is not finished yet. He is only 20. It could make sense for him to get even more mature over the next few years at Eintracht Frankfurt... Maybe he needs one or two more years to develop the strength and character to be ready for a move to a world-class club."
Sky Germany's Alexander Bonengel on Jovic's next move

This is arguably an easier task than trying to oust Lionel Messi, Philippe Coutinho or Luis Suarez at Barcelona, though, or going up against Lewandowski in the same Bayern team. He may be beating his stats this season at Eintracht Frankfurt, but going head-to-head with the Pole week-in, week-out for a spot in the same XI is another matter entirely.

But Bonengel believes the best place for him is to stay at the Waldstadion, concluding: "His development is not finished yet. He is only 20. It could make sense for him to get even more mature over the next few years at Eintracht Frankfurt.

"Hutter is very good at guiding and developing players. Maybe he needs one or two more years to develop the strength and character to be ready for a move to a world-class club."

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