Delighted to welcome back @Borngooner to 1ND2OU. He last guested in June 2012 and his article on 352, What is the point of fullbacks? is still the 10th most viewed piece I have ever posted. I have not written on Stevan Jovetic as my knowledge of Italian football is weak but today’s guest has equal love for Arsenal and Juventus and watches both leagues with the same passion. Not satisfied with his own knowledge he has pulled in some further Italian, and most particularly Fiorentina experts. The results make this I hope one of the most valid blogs on Jo-Jo you will have read to date….
As it has been reported by different outlets in the Media, the general consensus is that Jovetic is a prime target for Arsenal this summer. This however have been boosted by his recent comments when asked about Arsenal having an interest in him , he was overwhelmed and admitted that he always had an affinity for the team in red and white. I know this does not mean that we will automatically sign him this summer (though the prospect of seeing him in arsenal colors is mouthwatering) but our interest in him is genuine, depending on which paper you read.
I am a long time admirer of Jovetic and have always considered him as one of the finest young talents in Europe; I have stated that many times on twitter, thanks to Dave for giving me the opportunity to express myself in more than 140 characters i.e. how he’ll probably bolster our attack with his undoubted qualities etc. It will also feature the views of a Fiorentina expert and another expert on Calcio (Italian football) matters who I will later introduce in this blog.
Stevan Jovetic made his senior club debut for FK Partizan in 2006 at the age of 16, he scored 3 goals during a UEFA Cup qualifying game which ended in a 5-0 victory for Partizan recording his first career hat-rick in 2007 just at the age of 17, he was linked to several high profile clubs including Manchester United and Real Madrid In October 2007 but he stayed at Partizan and was made the club’s youngest ever captain in January 2008 only at the age of 18. On 10th may 2008 he signed for Fiorentina for a reported fee of 8 million pounds.
His first season saw him find his feet but his second season in 2009/10 saw his talent truly explode. Goals on the domestic front and the Champions League confirmed him as one of the most exciting players in Italy and alerted many European clubs to his abilities. He started to be more and more influential and clearly a man worth building a team around for years to come .However a pre-season knee ligament injury wiped out the whole of the following season putting his progress back a step. He picked up where he left off when he returned the following year but had clearly lost confidence and the team around him was also struggling. Nonetheless, his eye for goal remained undiminished and helped Fiorentina avoid a looming relegation threat.
It looked like that might be his last campaign in purple but a summer summit with the club’s owners convinced him to stay for at least another year. With a new management and fresh squad of players around him, he was urged to help take Fiorentina back to Europe. This season, goals have not always been easy to come by but he has still remained pretty prolific and has slotted in to both 3-5-2 formation as one of the two strikers and at the centre of a 4-3-3 attack. The latter has looked to suit him. He has 15 goals and 7 assists for Fiorentina in all competitions this season, which isn’t that bad for a player who was used as a second striker for most parts.
Technically perfect and a lethal finisher Stevan Jovetic is the type of multi-faceted striker that Arsenal need, he isn’t a pure striker who will beat teams in the air , but he is a versatile forward capable of playing in vast number of positions such as on the wings or in attacking midfield role or second striker role. He is more of an attacker who thrives in space and when given an opportunity he will make top quality defenders look silly trying to mark him one on one and is very deadly from range when he unleashes his shot, with Arsene Wenger’s system reliant on spacing and ball control: Jo-Jo and Arsenal are a match made in Heaven.
There is no hiding the fact that this season was a transition of sorts for Arsenal following Van Persie’s shock move to United , and I have no doubt in my mind that he could be that whiff of fresh air who will add an amazing dimension to the Gunners outfit who have been inconsistent for most parts. He can be the perfect pairing for Giroud with the former running onto the latter’s flicks and lay-offs etc; with his exquisite technical abilities he has the ability to facilitate some creative interplay with likes of Cazorla, Wilshere & Rocisky meaning we can re-jig our current formation to a greater effect. He can also play upfront with Theo on the right, Podolski on the left and him playing a false 9 a la Messi at Barca with Cazorla and Wilshere behind that trio up top – scoring goals would not be an issue for Arsenal. He is equally comfortable with both feet & has innate ability to come up with some top-notch goals & is dangerous from set pieces, in my honest opinion he could well be the man to unlock Arsenal’s potential next season.
Giroud has had a decent first season at Arsenal so far, he has impressed in patches but is fundamentally a different kind of player from Jovetic .He is more physical and threatening in the air, while Giroud excels in some areas, he doesn’t share Van Persie’s technical versatility (who he was supposed to replace) and ability to interchange positions with those around him. I think it will be fair to say with Giroud as our spearhead we have looked like a simpler, more one dimensional force for most parts of the season. Just look at Suarez (who I think is premier league’s best striker this season) he does not have the physical attributes of likes of Giroud but is incredibly mobile and nimble on the ball. This gives him a massive advantage and a unique threat that most defenders find almost impossible to manage. In my opinion if Arsenal’s proposed move for Jovetic is finalized this summer, he could bring similar qualities to the Emirates Stadium next season.
With those few remarks I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce the thoughts of a Fiorentina expert; Giancarlo Rinaldi who will be known to most of you on Twitter as @ginkers. Giancarlo is a brilliant writer and a long time contributor to Football Italia. The following are some of the questions I asked him and his response has been quite fascinating to say the least:
What was your first impression on him when he first signed for viola?
Ginkers: I was bewitched by his talents as soon as I saw him. I have rarely seen a player look more at home on the ball so quickly in a demanding league like Serie A. There were times, initially, where he got a bit carried away with youthful enthusiasm but he was a tricky customer for very experienced defenders almost straight away. In a city which has revered players like Roberto Baggio, Rui Costa and Giancarlo Antognoni, we knew we had found another performer other clubs would envy.
Which position do you personally think he’ll thrive in? Considering his versatility to play in different positions? While on that there have been some questions asked about his ability to lead the line/play upfront on his own by some pundits and he is basically categorized as a player who is best suited to play between the lines /on flanks with his exquisite technical abilities, do you concur with that?
Ginkers: Jo-Jo has been asked to play in a number of positions and formations during his time at Fiorentina and has, generally, adapted to them all. He definitely loses a bit, however, if he is too far from or too close to goal. He is not a classic goal-poaching striker nor does he give his best when stuck out on the flanks. But put him one-on-one facing a last defender and he is deadly. At the Viola he has played in a 4-2-3-1 under Cesare Prandelli and, more recently, the 3-5-2 and 4-3-3 of Vincenzo Montella. In my view, he has looked best as the central striker of an attacking trio but with license to roam with a bit of freedom or as the player “in the hole” behind a striker. But he has the ability to play pretty much anywhere up front.
Assuming a move to The Arsenal is eventually finalized, how important will it be to his career? I.e. playing in probably best league in the world he’ll get more exposure etc
Ginkers: I don’t think he would be at all troubled by a move to England; his skills look more than good enough to thrive in the Premier League. He is quite a reserved individual but is well used to the constant scrutiny of his performances in the Italian sports papers. It is hard to imagine he would feature too much in the tabloids over his private life. If he did move to Arsenal, it would be a chance for him to, presumably, play more regular Champions League football and showcase his talents to a different audience.
Considering his versatility and technical abilities, his game involves system reliant on spacing and ball control etc which is basically the underlying factors behind Arsene’s philosophy at arsenal. Do you think that could work to his advantage and ease him into the team?
Ginkers: There is no doubt Jovetic has the abilities which would seem to be a good fit for the way Arsenal play. That might make it easier for him to adapt to English football than it has been for others in the past. However I suspect the tempo of the Premiership might take a little more time for him to adjust to.
Coming to the EPL at such a young age comes with responsibilities and massive pressure to perform, especially to a club like Arsenal who haven’t really dealt well with the departure of van Persie. Many have suggested he is the perfect replacement for him in terms of quality, do you agree? Do you think he has the experience to deal with all that pressure and huge expectations on his shoulders?
Ginkers: He is a very different player to Van Persie but could certainly thrive if given the responsibility to lead the team. He was asked to take on such a role for Fiorentina this year and has, by and large, done it very well. There have been times when he has looked like he wanted to try to win games single-handed but, over time, he has learned to link-up better with his attacking partners and get the best out of both himself and his teammates. He is probably about the right age to make the step forward in terms of leadership.
Considering the formation currently deployed by Wenger, where do you see him fit in perfectly?
Ginkers: I believe Arsenal mostly play a 4-2-3-1 which echoes how he started his Fiorentina career. He usually slotted into the spot behind the striker and thrived in that role being able to provide assists and break into the box for goals. That would be his most natural position, I reckon, if he moved to the Gunners.
Last and final question : coming to the EPL will be totally a new experience for him, due to different styles, a relatively high tempo compared to the Serie A , its more physical, tactical etc. Do you think he can deal with the hustle and bustle of English game? I.e. in simple terms do you think he can hack it in the Premier?
Ginkers: My biggest worry about any move to England would be the injury potential. Over time in Florence he has gained a reputation – possibly wrongly – for not being able to play through more minor niggles and knocks. He would likely run into more of those in the Premiership and that might impair his ability to have a major impact. But, given time to settle in, any team getting him is getting a class act.
Many thanks Giancarlo, for agreeing to contribute, and doing so in an utterly professional manner. Those were some of the questions I could think of at the moment if you have other questions or you want some insight on Fiorentina I urge you to follow him on twitter @ginkers because he is the best Viola expert you will find on the internet.
I also asked a Calcio (Italian football) expert and a follower of the Azzuri, Steve Amoia known to most of you on twitter as @WorldFootballCM . Steve is the editor of World football commentaries and the Soccer Translator. He has been doing a commendable job over the past years translating various languages & football quotes i.e. Spanish, French, Italian etc to English. I asked him a simple question; “What can Arsenal fans expect from Jojo?” and the following was his response:
“Montenegrin international and Partizan youth product, Stevan Jovetic, has been with ACF Fiorentina since 2008. It is difficult to believe that he is only 23 years of age since he plays with the coolness and confidence of a much-more experienced player. Fiorentina has been one of the most attractive attacking sides in Serie A under their manager and former Fulham man, Vincenzo Montella. Should Jovetic’s move to Arsenal be finalized as anticipated, Gunners fans will witness a player who is technically brilliant, moves off-of-the ball quite well and is a rare player who can create as well as finish with lethal efficiency. A key to his success in the Premiership will be the components that Mr. Wenger places around him. Jovetic thrives in an environment with like-minded creative teammates who can appreciate his vision and technical prowess. If Mr. Wenger plays tothe young Montenegrin’s strengths, his acclimation to a different style of play in the Premier League will be hastened and Arsenal likely will see immediate dividends on their investment. “
Well you heard the experts, the bottom line is Jo-Jo will be a perfect signing and as Giancarlo said; “Any team getting him is getting a class act”. It’s always sensible to sign a player who is willing and desirous of playing for a particular club, Steven Jovetic is one such player, he has made his affinity for the gunners public by saying he is ” happy to be on the radar of such a big club like Arsenal” and with rumors of Wenger receiving a weekly scouting report on him the buzz is only going to escalate as the transfer window approaches.
It remains to be seen of course if Wenger and the board will actually make a huge signing like Jo-Jo or look to spread that cash around several positions but its fun to dream and for this Gunner at least, Stevan Jovetic will be a dream signing for Arsenal fans around the world.
I’d like to once again thank Giancarlo and Steve for their contributions and Dave for giving me this opportunity to guest blog for him.
Well I was far from convinced up until now, but that was pretty persuasive to say the least. My thanks to the international man of mystery man is @BornGooner and make sure to follow him if you are not already.
Like what you read? Agree/disagree? Leave a comment below or follow me or comment on this blog on Twitter – http://twitter.com/goonerdave66