Last season, Adi Hutter had one of the most frightening front-threes in European football. Eintracht Frankfurt’s trio of Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic has caught the attention of many. In the club’s 3-4-1-2 system, they were combining impeccable and scoring goals. The situations they find themselves in this season though were never foreseen.
Haller got 15 goals, getting nine assists. Rebic got nine goals and four assists in his bag. While Jovic, the youngest of the three, got 17 goals and five assists. These numbers made them one of the most potent strike forces in Europe. While they did get knocked out of the Europa League semi-finals at the hands of Chelsea, they went out with their heads held high.
In the summer, the Eagles saw an exodus. Rebic went to Milan, as Andre Silva came to the Commerzbank Arena in a swap deal. Jovic went to Real Madrid, while Haller headed off to West Ham to play under Manuel Pellegrini. In a flash, Frankfurt lost all three of their prized assets.
And all three of the players seem to be missing Frankfurt. Their struggles at their new clubs are of very different types.
Rebic’s is the worst though. Milan’s unstable situation is a key reason for that. The rossoneri got rid of Marco Giampaolo just when the former Sampdoria boss was settling his system into the side. They brought in Stefano Pioli and find themselves in the lower half of the table.
While they do have a 4-3-3 shape set, but there is no specific playing style. Giampaolo was to impose a possession style, but the club was reactionary and got rid of him. Rebic has played only 177 minutes of first-team football, with his last appearance coming against Napoli in late November.
As for Jovic, his case is very different. But it isn’t too promising in the short-term. Real have Karim Benzema in supreme form. The Frenchman has found the back of the net 16 times in all competitions this season, picking up seven assists on the way. Let alone Jovic, anyone would struggle to get regular football when playing second-fiddle to Benzema at this point.
Jovic was always seen as a long-term heir to Benzema’s throne. At 22, he can’t make an impact straight away either. He has made 12 La Liga appearances, scoring once. Waiting for his chance seems like his only possibility. And he would have to jump on the chance. His time will come sooner or later.
As for Haller, he has become a victim of West Ham’s struggles. He has been the scapegoat for the club’s struggles, even though their real problems aren’t lying there. He has still got six Premier League goals- the highest at the club this season. He also has one assist-making him the highest contributor to goals.
At Frankfurt, Haller wasn’t the target man that West Ham are using him as. He was almost a second-striker, with Jovic playing further forward. Rebic was more like an attacking midfielder in a very narrow front-three. There was an emphasis on possession and the three of them combining together.
But none of the three have been playing in a system which sees the front three playing narrow. Haller does play in a 4-3-3 at West Ham, but Andriy Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson aren’t narrow. Rebic isn’t playing at Milan at all, with Jovic not getting enough time to fit in properly.
Things could have been different if they had still been at Frankfurt. Rebic is being linked with a move back to the club, but for the other two, it is a case of getting on with it. They’re much younger than Rebic and their time will come.