Pep Guardiola’s second season in England has seen a number of records broken, as Manchester City ran away with the league title in impressive fashion. It will not be easy for the Spaniard to reach last season’s heights but his expectations from his side will be nothing less.
The manager is looking to improve on an already star-studded squad and has been linked with some of the finest stars in Europe. One such player now on their radar is Mateo Kovacic.
Kovacic A Back-Up Plan For Jorginho:
The English champions are desperate to add a top class midfielder to their first team and have been extensively linked with a move for Napoli’s Jorginho. However, they are unable to reach an agreement with the Italian giants over his fee, which has seen the deal meet a dead end.
And reports now suggest that Guardiola sees Kovacic as a backup plan if he is unable to land the Italian international. So is Kovacic a decent option for City?
Kovacic And His Madrid Struggles:
The 24-year old, who introduced himself to Europe with Inter Milan, joined Real Madrid as a 21-year old, back in 2015 but is yet to establish himself in the first team. He has often been overlooked by Zinedine Zidane, who offered him just 10 La Liga starts last season. The Croatian managed just one assist in the league and is now worried about his future.
He still has three years left on his current contract, but regular playing time can easily lure him out of the Bernabeu. A fleet-footed midfielder, with exceptional technique and even better understanding of the game, Kovacic is a gifted footballer, who is destined to be a star at the highest stage.
He is quick to wriggle out of tight spots, can set up counter attacks and create chances in the final third, while his ability to drop deep when under pressure adds more balance to the side. It is quite close to impossible for Pep to find quality upgrades in most roles for his first team but Kovacic is a player who will walk into his side next season.
Can City Land Him?
The Croatian is currently on international duty in Russia and will resolve his future after the competition. At 24, he will want to play week-in-week-out and that opportunity is the only thing that can attract him at the moment. He has a release clause of €300m, which is ludicrous, even for Manchester City’s standards.
But certain reports claim that he could be available for just £44m, which will be an absolute steal. Pep will play him at the base of his 3-man midfield, as Fernandinho’s legs begin to tire. Kovacic, David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne will form what will be one of the most dangerous midfields in the game.
Julen Lopetegui is expected to make a few changes to the squad and Kovacic himself has now revealed that he feels quitting Madrid is best for his career. So, if City can quickly make an offer the player and his club cannot refuse, Kovacic could well be heading to Etihad. However, any developments in this deal will depend on Croatia’s run in the World Cup.
Stats Courtesy: Whoscored