With Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey looking increasingly likely to be staying at the Emirates for the coming season, Chelsea will need to avert their sights towards another midfielder. Cue Real Madrid’s Mateo Kovacic.
New Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri still looks as though he wants to strengthen his midfield, despite the recent signing of Jorginho from Napoli.
Reports now suggest Sarri will look to Real Madrid’s lesser-known Croatian sensation Mateo Kovacic as an alternative to previous target Aaron Ramsey.
Let’s take a look at how Kovacic compares to some of Chelsea’s midfielders.
Since arriving from Inter Milan, Kovacic has failed to emerge as a key player in Real Madrid’s starting XI.
Competition to get into the Madrid midfield is fierce, however, with the trio of Casemiro, Kroos and fellow Croat Luka Modric frequently featuring in the side’s starting lineup.
Sadly, his lack of game time also saw him left out of Croatia’s first team for most of their games at this year’s World Cup. Even if Kovacic was fully fit, he’d still have to battle against the likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic to break into another absurdly strong midfield.
However, Kovacic is still only 24-years-old. With regular first-team football and the right guidance, there’s no reason why he can’t live up to the potential many plauded him of having a few years ago.
As shown in the graphic above, Kovacic operates on the outer channels of a midfield three and has also played further up the pitch. He utilises his skills on the ball and wide-range of passing to spur his attackers from midfield.
For context, I have used Squawka handy comparison matrix to compare Kovacic with midfielders who would operate a similar role in Chelsea’s starting XI.
Based on these stats, Kovacic is clearly a player who’s comfortable on the ball. He holds the second best possession score out of the four with 9.97.
Similarly, the number of successful passes he makes per 90 metrics also places him just behind Cesc Fabregas, with an average of 60.73 successful passes per 90 metrics.
The only area in the comparison Kovacic falls short, however, is the number of chances created. He sits bottom of the four with just 0.76 chances created per 90 metrics.
What needs to be noted when comparing these statistics is the amount of game time Kovacic has played compared to the others. In terms of minutes in the league, he has tallied less than half of the player with the next lowest, Aaron Ramsey.
These minutes spread over 17 games equate to less than 49 minutes per game. The success of this signing would be entirely dependant on the amount of game-time Maurizio Sarri is willing to give him. For this reason, I’m giving this deal a score of 70.
Once regular first-team football comes his way, Mateo Kovacic will be a force to be reckoned with.