Joveljic, acquired from Eintracht Frankfurt for a reported fee of around $4 million, officially signed this week on a U22 Initiative deal. The 21-year-old forward lit up the Austrian Bundesliga while on loan with Wolfsberger AC, where he tallied 20 goals and five assists in 46 games played (36 starts).
He even reminds head coach Greg Vanney a little bit of his new teammate Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.
“He’s a finisher," Vanney told media on Friday. "To be pretty frank, he has a lot of similar qualities to Javier. He’s a pure goal scorer, he’s thinking about his final runs. He’s tenacious in getting onto the end of things. He can finish with his left foot, right foot and his head.”
Mexico's all-time leading scorer is quite the comparison for Joveljic, a player he is quite fond of.
“Chicharito is an inspiration, it’s amazing to share the field with him," Joveljic said. "I can’t wait. I met him, he’s a really good guy. I’m really looking forward to this.”
Though they have similar qualities, Vanney believes the pair can play together because of their soccer IQ.
“It gives us a lot of flexibility," Vanney said. "Both of them are very aware. Dejan played in a two-striker system last year – he’s used to that and used to playing as a lone striker. For me, it’s about them being aware of each other and being able to coordinate their movements. Both are very clever and smart off the ball. We’ll have to see what our best look is moving forward.”
Vanney typically prefers a 4-3-3 set-up, leaving room for only one forward, but has been known to switch to two-striker systems over the years, mostly with three at the back. Having two starting-caliber center forwards gives Vanney options to tinker and find the best set-up for the team, and also better rotate the attack.
The acquisition is a key one for the Galaxy. They've been tracking him for most of the year when they thought they might have a chance to sign him.
“He’s a young man with huge potential," Vanney said. "I think the only reason we had an opportunity to bring him is because COVID put the breaks a little bit on his career.”
Joveljic is a graduate of Red Star Belgrade's academy, a club that's produced the likes of Luka Jovic, Marko Grujic and many more in recent years. He joined Frankfurt as a highly-rated teenager in the summer of 2019, then was set on loan to Anderlecht the following winter to get more playing time. After just five games, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the Belgian league. When soccer returned for the next season, he went on loan again to Wolfsberger AC.
Back after a fulfilling sojourn in Austria, Joveljic seemed set to compete for regular minutes at Frankfurt, before the Bundesliga club surprisingly signed South American star Rafael Santos Borre. He was once again on the outside looking in, which paved the way for the Galaxy to heat up their pursuit of the Serbian.
“It became a great opportunity for us," Vanney said. "He had other options. He could have played in the French first division but he chose us.”
“I had several offers, but when I saw LA Galaxy I was surprised," Joveljic added. "It was not such a tough decision.”