Don't blame me for fierce Real squad competition, says Zidane

Jovic, Reguilon, Hakimi are players who have proven their worth after an unproductive spell at Madrid

REUTERS January 20, 2021


Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said he is not to blame for Luka Jovic failing to succeed at the club after the Serbian striker scored as many goals in his first game with Eintracht Frankfurt as he managed in 18 months in the Spanish capital.

Jovic is one of several players who have proven their worth after an unproductive spell at Real under Zidane, such as Sergio Reguilon at Tottenham Hotspur and Achraf Hakim at Inter Milan.

"It's easy to blame the coach but Real Madrid is a very difficult place to play," Zidane told a news conference before Real's Copa del Rey tie away to Alcoyano on Wednesday.

"Some players decide to stay here even though they know it's very difficult, while others, like Luka, have to leave to prove themselves."

Real signed Jovic from Eintracht for 60 million euros (US$72.82 million) in 2019 but he made only six league starts, scoring twice. He also ran into trouble off the pitch, breaking Serbia's coronavirus curfew rules and later injuring his foot while training at home.

He returned to the Bundesliga side on loan this month and could hardly have had a better impact in his first game back, scoring two late goals in a 3-1 win over Schalke 04.

Zidane defended signing the Serbian two years ago and said he could still have a good career with his side but emphasised the fierce level of competition at the club was not his making.

"Luka has a bright future and can prove himself here and it's the same for everyone else. There's a very strong level of competition here and that's not the coach's fault," added the Frenchman.

Zidane is expected to heavily rotate his squad for the Cup tie at third division Alcoyano but is wary of a potential upset.

"There are many surprises in the Cup in every country, as small teams get the chance to play against a big side and they do formidable things," he said.


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