Spanish tabloids have been working overtime ever since the reappointment of Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid was made official last weekend, claiming inside information about the futures of various players and speculating about potential transfer targets. It’s pretty standard stuff, some credible, some less so; most of it junk and filler.
One of the most likely predicted outcomes is of course Eden Hazard joining his childhood idol this summer. The English press put the price of that deal around £100m, though The Sun’s Neil Ashton — once credible, now of The Sun — pops in with some silliness about £70m (that’s “sure to be rejected”) and is thus adding nothing to reports from more reputable sources about Real Madrid formalizing their interest recently.
Another fairly likely outcome that also has something to do with us is the future of Mateo Kovačić, or to be more specific, of it not involving Real Madrid. El Confidencial are just one of the tabloids running with this angle, citing personal and professional differences between the loanee and the returning head coach — Zidane’s usage of Kovačić, or lack thereof, and the player’s subsequent disillusionment in Madrid is a big reason why he wanted to leave after last season, after all. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is therefore looking to cash in to the tune of €50m or so.
Unfortunately for Chelsea, if the transfer ban remains in place and we can’t get it suspended by way of a CAS appeal, we won’t be able to get involved in this one. Kovačić, like Gonzalo Higuaín, is only on loan at Chelsea, which means that any extension (loan or otherwise) would have to involve re-registration. Transfer bans actually prevent new registrations rather than transfers, as the name indicates — Chelsea could certainly spend the money on Kovačić or any other player, but we would not be able to register him for any official competitions until the transfer ban has run its two-window course.
The 24-year-old Kovačić has been a solid contributor to Chelsea this season, though there’s a lingering feeling that he could do much better. Perhaps some of that is down to the system — he probably should be one of our primary playmakers (deep or advanced) rather than trying to fill Sarri-ball’s Hamšík-role — perhaps some of that is down to unrealistic expectations of being a “next Modrić”. He’s been deployed at all three midfield positions however by Sarri, and that sort of versatility is never not useful. Mateo Kovačić can be a great player and he could find a role at just about any team in the world. Some might say that sort of quality can be good to have in a squad ... alas, unless the transfer ban is lifted temporarily, we won’t be the ones to count on him.