REAL MADRID

Paunovic: "Jovic has to release the lion that lives inside him"

The former Serbian u-19 manager knows Jovic well and says he believes in him but says now is the time to wake up and show of his goalscoring repotoire.

Veljko Paunovic knows Luka Jovic very well and managed him at the European u-19 tournament in 2014 despite the fact that the Real Madrid striker was just 16 years old. When he signed with the club in the summer, the coach was optimistic of the signing: "The best thing is that Madrid haven't signed the player that he is but signed his potential." Six months on and the situation is far from ideal. 432 minutes played, four starts and just one goal scored.

Karim Benzema's absence means Jovic has the chance to play in the Spanish Super Cup and Paunovic has spoken to AS again about the Serb. "I said that the first six months were going to be about adaptation, that he would need to simplify his role a bit," he said. "What we have seen so far is a very lightweight version of him, now is the time to wake up and take the chance he has been offered. I believe in him but it's time to start taking advamtage of opportunitie. It's time to liven up."

Jovic's cold character hasn't helped his assimilation at the Bernabéu where the more lively players tend to be better-suited. "He is a very calm kid and that's what makes him so cool in the penalty area," he said. "But this sheepskin he is wearing is the same we have seen on the field and inside there is a lion that hasn't been shown to the Spanish public or to Madrid fans. I know that it's there and I believe in him a lot but he has to reelase the lion that lives inside him and his goalscoring reportoire."

Serbia's national team coach has criticised Jovic for needing to mature and Paunovic agrees. "He is young, he needs to mature, these conflicts are because of a lack of experience. You have to show what you are worth like the three best in the world. Cristiano understood it, his ambition always keeps him at the top. And Messi too. Those two, and nobody else, could live on their past but neither of them do it. They are always there to fight for chances," he said.

The former Chicago Fire coach says it's a pity that Jovic hasn't shown his best qualities yet but maintains that he is a class act and needs to get back to basics, focus and start scoring goals.