Luka Jovic was unveiled as the most expensive centre-forward in the history of Real Madrid on Wednesday but he was presented to around 5,000 supporters without a shirt number because the club need to sell players to free one up for him.
Only 13 and 16 are currently free and so the 21-year-old Serbia international will wait to see who leaves this summer so he can decide what shirt he will wear.
Real Madrid will present Eden Hazard to supporters on Thursday and the man whose fee could rise to £150m will have a shirt with the No 7 – likely to be taken from young striker Mariano Diaz and given to the Belgian.
Jovic has previously worn No 8 for Serbia and Eintracht Frankfurt but Toni Kroos has that shirt and has just signed a new contract.
Jovic was presented by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez who said his signing was: ‘The start of an exciting new project for next season.’ He added: ‘This has not been the year we had hoped for and we are going to react with strength.’
He told his new signing: ‘Now you are the owner of the shirt you have told us you slept in as a kid.’
Jovic emerged from his Madrid hotel at 7.30am for his medical, his visit to the Valdebebas training facilities and then his appearance on the pitch. There were other photo opportunities in front of the club’s 13 European Cups and signing his contract alongside Perez.
After Wednesday’s presentation he was to join up with Serbia’s Under-21 team for the European Championship. Prior to his presentation an impressively long video of his goals was shown. The Serbian ambassador in Madrid joined the player in the ceremony as he smiled through the montage of his best strikes.
Perez spoke of a player with ‘enormous quality’ and former Valencia player Miroslav Djukic told Radio Marca: ‘Jovic is a natural finisher. He can shoot off both feet and can finish with his head. He is a great discovery.’
Perez made plenty of the fact that they had beaten other top European clubs to the signing of Jovic talked of the huge achievement of winning four Champions Leagues in five seasons but needing to renew the squad.
Not everyone was impressed with the signing. One El Pais correspondent said that Jovic was a first division player when he could play with just one touch; a second division one when he had to play two-touch; and a third division one he had to play with three or more touches.
Madrid will hope he doesn’t need to take too many touches to make the investment worth their while.
When Zinedine Zidane returned last season one of the things he insisted on when offering up his new signings wish-list was an out-and-out goalscorer who would complement the more subtle talents of Karim Benzema and the in-coming Hazard.
With two months left of the transfer window it now remains to be seen who will be joining Jovic and who will be departing – possibly leaving him a shirt number.
Hazard will be presented on Thursday with Ferland Mendy next up. Then Real will try to raise funds to finance a serious move for the player that Zidane wants more than any other – Paul Pogba.