REAL MADRID

Jovic under more pressure as Mayoral reveals Zidane talks

Borja Mayoral suggested after completing a loan move to Roma that Zinedine Zidane would have preferred to see Luka Jovic leave the club this summer.

While it is unusual for a footballer to speak openly beyond the sanctuary of the dressing room it is even rarer for a player to talk about that most sacred of the sport’s veiled corners, transfer negotiations. However, Real Madrid forward Borja Mayoral took the unusual step of telling his side of the story after he was presented as a Roma player after completing a loan to the Serie A side on Wednesday: “When I arrived back at Madrid for the preseason, I was going to leave the club quickly, but Zidane wanted me to stay. I think the club listened to Zidane and that's why they wanted to let [Luka] Jovic go.”

It had long been reported that Zidane was keen to retain Mayoral as an understudy to Karim Benzema and send the Serbia striker, who has failed to settle at the Bernabéu following his €60m move from Eintracht Frankfurt last summer, out on loan instead.

Jovic has been under the microscope following a series of high-profile off-pitch incidents that have failed to endear him to Zidane and the 22-year-old has hardly been prolific on the turf either, managing just two goals in 27 appearances last season. Now Mayoral’s assertion that Zidane was not keen on another season of trying to coax Jovic’s Bundesliga form out of the striker will place considerably more pressure on the Serbia international to come out of the blocks firing when Liga action resumes in earnest.

Jovic to be handed unexpected chance at Real Madrid

While Mayoral and Jovic coincided at Real Madrid before the canterano’s move to Roma, the latter chalked up 129 minutes to the Spaniard’s 23 and showed some signs of improvement against Levante, although he has still to find the net this season. Zidane and Madrid are willing to give Jovic the chance to prove himself but there is no shortage of other options in attack if he continues to fire blanks.