Jovan Mijatović is a talent football clubs all over the world should be looking at. He is a prospect that is certainly one to watch.
The Serbian comes from a part of the globe that is no stranger to producing stars. The dissolution of the Yugoslav state in the early 1990s brought an added emphasis to footballers from its former regions. Within the next 20 years, the top leagues around Europe were inundated with their talent.
Players from Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, as well as neighbouring Serbia, were being cherry-picked from clubs for relatively modest fees. Players such as Aleksander Mitrović, Nemanja Vidić, and Nemanja Matić have all been well-respected by most for their fearlessness and effectiveness in their respective positions.
But this generation of super Serbs is at or certainly coming to, an end. However, the well has not yet run dry. There is now a new name to take note of. And that name is: Jovan Mijatović.
Who Is Jovan Mijatović?
Born in the capital Serbian capital of Belgrade, Jovan Mijatović came through the ranks of local side Cverna Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) before making his first team debut last season at the age of just 17. In his 57 appearances since, he’s managed to amass 21 goals, with 8 of those coming in 14 games in the league this season.
The raw numbers sound promising, but once you start to dig into other performance indicators, you begin to understand why he’s on the radar of clubs like Juventus and Manchester City.
Feeling Fine at Number 9 – What Does Jovan Mijatović bring?
Jovan Mijatović primarily operates as a centre forward but has also filled in as a 10 and on the right wing, cutting in onto his left foot. He is around 5’10” and looks like a physical specimen. This can be seen in his approach to matches as he utilises this strength and tenacity to harry defenders, rarely giving up on seemingly lost causes.
Whilst some may see his height as a potential obstacle to being an effective focal point, Mijatović thinks differently. In the first image below, Mijatović (indicated by the arrow) is closely occupied by two opposition defenders with no clear route to the goal. You could imagine the temptation for Belgrade’s number 4 to recycle possession and look for an alternative path to goal. But he knows the quality his number 9 possesses.
Using his clever movement and excellent leap, Mijatović makes his run inside the centre half closest before rising to power the ball past the opposition’s keeper. This is a quality that those at the top consistently strive for. Any centre forward worth their salt knows just how effective it can be to steal a march on those defending the box. Even at such a young age, Mijatović is demonstrating true ‘fox in the box’ qualities. He has found the net with three headers already this term. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that his aerial duel percentage is comparable with strikers with renowned heading capabilities.
Mijatović possesses other predatory instincts that would catch the eye of many clubs playing in the Champions League. He is capable of anticipating defensive errors and capitalising on them with clinical precision. In the image below, Mijatović reacts to a loose touch from the defender and regains possession. There are several other players preventing him from simply being able to turn and get a shot away, whilst he also needs to be mindful of the player whose loose control has gifted him the ball.
This is where Jovan Mijatović demonstrates his attacking intelligence. He traps the ball before rolling it away from the approaching defenders and swivels industriously around the closest of those pressing him. This allows him to get the space needed to get the shot off and, importantly, onto his stronger left foot. With the deepest attacker occupied by his teammate, Mijatović unleashes a thunderous effort that gives the keeper no chance of preventing a Belgrade goal. It is this kind of game IQ that allowed him to become the youngest Belgrade player to ever score a hattrick. So, what does all of this point towards? A striker with exceptional numbers performing at an exceptional level.
One fundamental element in the modern attacker’s arsenal is their ability to retain possession under intense pressure – otherwise referred to as their press resistance. Given his desire to involve himself in virtually every one of his team’s attacks, the need for Mijatović to demonstrate this quality is crucial.
As a naturally deeper-lying forward, Jovan Mijatović frequently finds himself dropping into pockets between the lines to pick up the ball with pressure from either side. When he receives the ball in the image above, there aren’t many obvious solutions as to how he will navigate the oncoming defenders. He could look to play the pass to the teammate alongside him, but this could just as easily result in a turnover and a counter opportunity.
Mijatović opts for a more maverick approach – to dribble around them. He holds off the immediate threat of the player closest to him as he brings the ball out towards the left channel, luring in two of the defenders before gliding by them.
His agility allows him to change direction and jink back inside past the remaining player before he turns on the afterburners to work his way into a promising position. These offensive actions, alongside his eagerness to influence the shift of play upfield, will prove useful for a team that thrives on building attacking moves from deeper positions.
The Attacking Output
The rewards for Mijatović’s drive and resilience are reflected in the numbers collated by football data analyst DataMB. He is outperforming his expected goals and averages 1.41 goals or assists for every 90 minutes played. If you isolate his expected assist figures per 90 minutes, he is currently performing at a similar level to Gabriel Jesus, Julián Álvarez, and Diogo Jota.
These feats are all the more impressive when you factor in that he is only just establishing himself as a certified starter, earning these contributions in just 637 minutes of football.
Though playing in a less prestigious league, his output has matched that of Lewandowski and Harry Kane in recent seasons. Cverna Zvezda has even given him the illustrious number 9 shirt of a first-team striker, which showcases the confidence they have in his abilities. Clearly, they see the importance Jovan Mijatović could have in the seasons to come.
He can dribble. He can shoot. He can hold off opposition players. At times, he can play through the lines. He’s good in the air. He will chase after just about anything. Is there anything he can’t do?
Irrefutably, Jovan Mijatović has to be respected and seen as an exciting prospect for any would-be buyers. Given his current trajectory, you’d imagine it’s only a matter of time before a European behemoth swoops in to take him.
Although still a raw prospect and with some minor deficits to work on over time, Jovan Mijatović appears well on his way to carving out his own reputation as the man to be feared.
If you want to check out more player profiles, check out the following: