"I have said before that Stevan is a very important player for us and he proved again what an asset he can be,” Pellegrini said of Stevan Jovetic after the Montenegrin netted a brace in Manchester City’s pre-season friendly with Liverpool.
It was the second game running in which Jovetic had scored – twice. It may only be pre-season but the 24-year-old has netted more times in three games than his whole Premier League campaign last term. Is he finally starting to show his worth at Man City?
"He had a number of different injuries last season but now he is fully fit,” Pellegrini continued.
"I'm sure if he continues in this way he will show why he is here. If he's fit all the year, he will be a very important player for us."
Usually, faith like that conveys a clear message for a striker: that you are the manager’s number one. At City, however, things are a little different. Sergio Aguero is Pellegrini’s main man going forward, while Edin Dzeko, too, is being shown an equal amount of support with the offer of a new contract.
And, despite speculation linking him with a move away from the club in the summer, Alvaro Negredo is still in the City first-team picture – just.
So, if Jovetic intends to make his mark at the Etihad Stadium this season, it appears he will have to duel with Dzeko for a place alongside Aguero in Pellegrini’s starting XI. Of the two, it is difficult to say who will be the most important player this term.
|Team||Pos||Goals / app||Assists / app||Dribbles Won / app||Aerial Duels Won / app||Apps||Mins|
|Edin Dzeko||Man City||FW||0.52||0.03||0.39||2.77||31||1,991|
|Stevan Jovetic||Man City||FW||0.23||0.08||1.15||0.15||13||360|
As Opta stats show, Bosnia man Dzeko had a far superior season last term. The target man scored more goals per game and won significantly more aerial duels per game.
As Pellegrini points out, though, Jovetic had an injury-plagued campaign. Even then, he managed more assists per game and won more dribbles. With more playing time, the goals would likely follow, as well.
The season before Jovetic moved to Manchester, he scored 13 Serie A goals for Fiorentina and, the season before that, 14. As four years Dzeko’s junior, meanwhile, Jovetic looks to have a lot more unlocked potential.
While both players could prove vital to City’s assault on four fronts next term, then, Dzeko is no longer a shoo-in to deputise for or partner Aguero.
The two’s playing styles will suit different games but one striker will always be above another in the pecking order. Only their form alone will decide that. Right now, it looks too close to call.