Real Madrid are set for a summer rebuilding job under Julen Lopetegui after the departure of one of their finest ever players, Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the Portuguese superstar isn’t going to be the only player to leave and Marca report that Mateo Kovacic is determined to leave the club before the transfer window closes. That news will have reached the Premier League, as the midfielder has plenty of interest from English clubs.
The article goes on to list a number of clubs that are interested in the Croatian international including Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool. At the age of 24, Kovacic has already played at the top of the European game and he has the potential to develop into one of the continent’s greatest midfielders. The education that he has received at Inter Milan and Real Madrid has been exceptional, but he is now ready to for a regular starting role. That is unlikely to come at the Bernabeu.
The Premier League will be his most likely destination due to the financial power of the top-six clubs. There are few teams that will be able to produce a package that will be acceptable to Real Madrid, with €50 million discussed as a starting point in Marca’s report, and the majority are English.
The best midfielders in the modern game are versatile and capable of playing a number of different roles. Kovacic is a great example of that, as he can play as a number ten, a deep-lying player or a box-to-box midfielder. He can pick a pass or drive forward powerfully with the ball at his feet and offer a direct goal threat himself.
Last season, he started only ten times in the league and wasn’t given an opportunity to truly flourish in the Real Madrid midfield. Despite this, he showed his quality on the ball with a pass success rate of 93.7%. His dribbling is his best quality as he regularly beats opposition defenders with a turn of pace and that creates space for him to exploit in the attacking half. His experience in Italy helped him become more robust in defence and he doesn’t shirk a physical battle on the pitch.
Kovacic would need time to adjust to the Premier League and the physicality of the English game. At times, he can be bullied by more physical players. He also needs to improve his decision making on the ball, as he can sometimes keep the ball too long or pick the wrong pass in the build-up play. This is something that will improve with experience and shows why he needs regular first-team football.
If Kovacic does become available, the entire top-six will consider him as an option. Liverpool could be a great fit for him, considering they have failed to land Nabil Fekir. Although the Croatian is a different profile of the player, he could form an excellent partnership with Fabinho and Naby Keita if given the chance. Chelsea and Manchester City would both also provide good options with the opportunity to work with Maurizio Sarri and Pep Guardiola.
At the time of writing, it appears that Kovacic wants to leave Real Madrid. If the club agree to a sale, the top-six of the Premier League should do all they can to land him.