<
>

Real Madrid's Jovic facing criticism in Serbia after travelling home amid team lockdown for coronavirus

play
How much postponing football competitions will cost (1:38)

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti explains the financial impact behind postponing UEFA competitions. (1:38)

Luka Jovic is facing criticism in his native Serbia after the Real Madrid forward travelled home, with the club's permission, to continue his coronavirus self-isolation.

Sources have confirmed to ESPN that the 22-year-old striker flew to Belgrade last Thursday.

He was given the go-ahead to travel by Real Madrid's medical department, with the understanding that he would continue to self-isolate there.

The Real Madrid squad have been in quarantine at home and their Valdebebas training complex has been in lockdown since one of the club's basketball players, Trey Thompkins, tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

It's been reported that Jovic has failed to observe coronavirus self-isolation protocols since returning to Serbia, with various media in the country suggesting that he has been out in Belgrade celebrating his girlfriend's birthday.

Jovic said on social media that he was unaware of the strict restrictions implemented in Serbia upon his arrival.

"While in Spain, I tested negative for coronavirus, and I decided to travel to Serbia to help and support our people and be close to my family, in agreement with my club," Jovic wrote on Thursday. "When I landed in Serbia, I again tested negative for coronavirus. I am very sorry that some people did their job unprofessionally and did not give me the correct instructions on how to behave in self-isolation.

"In Spain, I was allowed to go to a pharmacy and a supermarket so I could get the groceries I needed, which is not the case here. I apologise to everyone if I have endangered them in some way and I hope that together we can manage to overcome all this."

Jovic has found it difficult to adapt to life in La Liga since joining Real Madrid for €60 million last summer.

His low morale, coupled with a muscular problem he suffered last month, led club doctors to believe returning to Serbia to spend time with his family might prove beneficial.

However, sources have told ESPN that the player was warned he was likely to face criticism for leaving Madrid and travelling home at this time, even with the club's permission.

The Serbian prime minister Ana Brnabic, without naming Jovic, has criticised the conduct of some of the country's high-profile players, saying "we have negative examples of football stars who earn millions abroad and when they come back to Serbia, they don't self-isolate as is obligatory."

Sources have said that Jovic's Real Madrid teammates are not impressed by these latest reports either.

Other players have followed the club's recommendations to the letter, following detailed daily training regimes at their homes in Madrid -- even those from abroad who could have asked permission to fly home, as Jovic did, and instead chose to stay.