Zinedine Zidane described Luka Jovic as the future of Real Madrid ahead of what is likely to be an important test for the striker in the Supercopa de Espana.
With Karim Benzema injured and Gareth Bale ill, Jovic is likely to lead the Madrid attack in Wednesday’s semi-final against Valencia in Jeddah.
It could be a key step for the 22-year-old, who has struggled for regular first-team football since joining from Eintracht Frankfurt for a reported €60million fee last June.
Jovic has started just four competitive matches under Zidane, with his only goal coming in the 5-0 LaLiga win over Leganes at the Santiago Bernabeu on October 30.
Zidane has been reported to be unconvinced by Jovic’s potential but, speaking on Tuesday, the Madrid head coach made it clear that is not the case.
“The feelings are good, despite the absences. There’s a very big squad and the rest are here to respond,” he told reporters.
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“Jovic is an obvious option. He is the future. He has to be calm. He is learning.
“He’s a boy who wants to learn a lot. He’s very good. He’ll get a lot of goals. We’ve backed him and you have to be calm with him.”
Madrid ended a run of three consecutive draws, which included a trip to Valencia that finished 1-1, with a 3-0 win at Getafe prior to heading out to Saudi Arabia for the first expanded Supercopa tournament.
Zidane’s men are on a 14-match unbeaten streak and have kept clean sheets in four of their past six games in all competitions.
The former France star says their improvement in defence makes them a formidable opponent given their consistent threat in attack.
“We adapt to everything and now we’re here to play a Supercopa match,” he said.
“Every game is different. Valencia also have absences. Our mentality doesn’t change at all. We’re happy to be able to play in this competition.
“In order to attack well, you have to defend well, and that’s what we’re doing. If we’re strong at the back and we don’t let in many goals, we have the quality to cause problems for any opposition.”