‘One to watch in 2010’ – Liverpool new boy Milan Jovanovic

When Liverpool snapped up Milan Jovanovic on a free transfer earlier this season it was the first sign of the club acknowledging that they need a striker, and could prove to be a success even though he is not a household name. The fact that he was available on a free transfer meant that he was thus able to sign a pre-contract agreement with the club. But just what is he going to offer Liverpool? Will he prove to be a striker that the Reds can rely on?

Jovanovic is quickly approaching the age of 29 and is having the most successful period of his career at his current club Standard Liege. In his four years there he has scored 52 goals in 115 games. The Serbian international, who has played 24 times for his country, said this about his move to Merseyside: “I opted to sign for Liverpool because they’re one of the biggest teams around in Europe. They’re definitely among the 10 biggest sides. I’m absolutely delighted that the deal is completed. From now on, I can focus on Standard Liege again. I want to leave the club in a good way.” Jovanovic’s career started off in his home country with a club called Vojvodina and he contributed by scoring 10 goals in 43 games. However, since then and before playing for Liege, he has played for Shakhtar Donetsk and Lokomotiv Moscow where serious injuries ruined his time at both clubs and barely managed to play during his time in the Ukraine and then in Russia. His luck changed and the move to Belgian club Liege kick-started his career.

So how is Belgium’s Footballer of the Year 2008 going to fit in at Liverpool? As the statistics reveal about his scoring at Liege, he is naturally a very good finisher and is said to possess the skill and technique that will be required in a higher level of football than what he has been used to. If his attributes are up to a high standard than it will be interesting to see who he partners up-front or if he plays a lone striker. This obviously comes down to the future of Fernando Torres but strikers who are good at the technical side of the game, rather than pace and the ‘ugly’ side where Jovanovic struggles, usually prefer playing with a partner.  It seems that irrespective of whether Torres leaves, Jovanovic will be given plenty of opportunities to impress at Anfield as he could find himself as the main striker.

What must please Rafael Benitez is the fact that Liverpool have signed a player that attracted interest from AC Milan and Everton. Jovanovic also turned down a move to Real Madrid prior to signing before the Reds because he wanted to gain more first-team experience at Liege, and Benitez will also be glad that the deal was completed when it was because the player is bound to be representing Serbia at this summer’s World Cup- where his value could rise.

Given that he is almost 29, and likely to be a starter in most games in his first season, the Serbian international is probably expected to display his current form within a short space of time. He is a the peak of his career and in principle Liverpool don’t have a lot to lose as they brought him on a free transfer- but these sort of signings have turned out to be flops at other Premiership clubs. Now that Benitez has shown he is focused on planning for next season by having Jovanovic on board, the player can prove to the fans that he can come from a small league and impress in the big time that is the Premier League.

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