Eintracht Frankfurt have found themselves in the centre of one of the summer’s most bizarre big-money transfers – and the German side have firmly lost out.
Adi Hutter’s side impressed in 2018-19, finishing seventh and securing a Europa League qualification spot – alongside a fine run to the semi-finals of the 2018-19 Europa League, losing to eventual winners Chelsea.
The man at the heart of last season’s promise has been right at the centre of everything concerning the club this summer – Serbia international Luka Jovic. The 21-year old won a host of admirers after netting 27 goals in his second season of a two-year loan from Benfica, including a winner in their quarter-final clash with the Portuguese side.
Frankfurt sensed the vultures circling and activated his €17m release clause – much to the irritation of Benfica, who had clearly underestimated his potential. However, it was the worst kept secret in European football that Frankfurt were already in negotiations with Real Madrid to move Jovic on, just weeks after joining permanently.
His €60m move to Zinedine Zidane’s side was labelled as Frankfurt’s ‘reward’ for helping Jovic reach his potential as one of the best young goalscorers in Europe – with a sizeable amount of money available to sign a replacement.
That simply has not happened, with Frankfurt priced out of moves for targets and clubs quoting them an inflated price due to their increased wealth. Hutter has pursued targets in the Bundesliga and the neighbouring Eredivisie and Ligue 1, but strengthening the club’s attacking options proved a near-impossible task for much of the summer.
The situation has been made even more difficult ahead of the new season, with Jovic’s 20-goal teammate Sebastien Haller has also moved on, joining West Ham, and Ante Rebic also wanted by clubs in Italy and Spain.