Late last month, Stevan Jovetić opted to showcase his skills in a rather surprising manner, taking to Instagram to upload footage of himself wielding an AK-47. The Manchester City striker arguably spent longer at the rifle range than on the pitch in 2015, making just three substitute appearances and playing just 57 minutes since the end of January.
Indeed, since Wilfried Bony joined the club from Swansea City during the winter transfer window, Jovetić found himself surplus to requirements, axed from the club’s European squad by Manuel Pellegrini. That prompted the Montenegrin striker to fire a few shots at Manuel Pellegrini back in February, making his feelings towards being left off the UEFA list abundantly clear as he told the Sunday Mirror:
"The manager has killed me with this decision. I feel I deserve my place and other people have told me the same. People have told me I am a great player, but it is clear that the manager doesn’t think the same way."
“I am very disappointed, even now. I don’t think it was a good decision – or the right decision. I know that I deserve to be on the list. I told the manager this, but he didn’t want to listen to me. I came here to play in the Champions League.”
Arriving at the Etihad Stadium in the summer of 2013, Jovetić was a highly coveted player, costing the Premier League side £22 million. He had impressed with previous club Fiorentina, starring for the Viola in their own Champions League run as he netted vital goals in wins over Liverpool and Bayern Munich. Clearly hungry for more action in Europe’s elite competition, he left Serie A in search of a bigger stage on which to show the talent he had displayed since breaking into the FK Partizan side as a sixteen year old.
Becoming their youngest ever captain a year later, he would then move to Italy in 2008, having already made his international debut for Montenegro and Jovetić would quickly win over the fans in Florence. Five goals in the club’s six Champions League games in 2009/10 saw him heralded as a star, only for a knee injury to mean he would miss the following campaign entirely. He returned to shine once again, performing admirably as the team around him struggled, and by the time Manchester City came calling, few in the Renaissance city begrudged him the opportunity.
In truth, the Viola faithful were happy the man they affectionately referred to as Jojo chose to join Roberto Mancini’s side rather than bitter rivals Juventus, the club who had taken Roberto Baggio from them two decades earlier. Jovetić would lose much of his first season to injury, never truly establishing a place in the team as he made just two league starts, but still managed to record three goals and an assist in just over 360 minutes of action.
The 2014/15 campaign began well for him, turning in another stellar performance against Liverpool as he netted twice in a 3-1 victory, but it would prove to be something of a false dawn for the 25 year old. While there was little chance he could displace David Silva in the team, the simple fact is he has even failed to supplant Samir Nasri from his role on the opposite flank, and City’s decision to sign Bony has seemingly sealed his fate.
That meant the club had 17 foreign players but only sixteen places in its Champions League squad, with Jovetić being the odd man out. His resultant outburst saw him virtually ostracised from the side, never given chance to prove that Pellegrini had made a mistake as he was not even a member of the match day squad for 11 of City’s last fifteen games of the campaign. “I have not made any decision about my future. I will wait until the summer then we will see,” Jovetić told reporters recently when asked if he would be moving on. "But the manager has put other players ahead of me, so maybe this is a message about what he wants to do."
Again, there appear to no shortage of suitors for the Titograd native, with some of Europe’s biggest clubs believed to be interested in his services. Having missed out on Memphis Depay, Liverpool are rumoured to be among them, while a reunion with Roberto Mancini at Inter has been touted by the press in both England and Italy.
The Gazzetta dello Sport believes the Bianconeri would look to take the player on loan with an option to make the deal permanent at a later date, expressing concern over the injury-plagued nature of his career to date. That would be a prudent move by the Italian champions, who perhaps see the striker as an ideal replacement for Carlos Tevez, and Jovetić could only hope to enjoy the same success as the Argentinean star has since swapping Manchester for Turin.
It would likely mean something of a reduction in wages, but with both City and Jovetić clearly frustrated by his failure to make an impact, it seems there is a chance a deal could be struck. New signing Mario Mandžukić virtually guarantees goals, but the former Fiorentina man could add vital Serie A experience and the unpredictable moments of skill needed to unlock the most resolute defences.
A healthy and motivated Stevan Jovetić is a proven commodity, one that has been rarely seen at the Etihad, but could reappear on the peninsula in the not-too-distant future.
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