Having spent three trophy-laden years at Real Madrid without clocking significant minutes, Mateo Kovačić found Chelsea to be the perfect destination last summer to revitalize his career. The plan paid off with 51 appearances, and despite inconsistent performances (just like the team overall), and Chelsea made him the summer’s only signing for a cool €50m (allowed despite the transfer ban due to his loan registration last season).
Armed with a five-year deal, Kovačić is indeed delighted to start this new chapter of his career.
“It means a lot because I saw the club wanted me and I wanted to stay here from the first day. We had a good connection so I’m happy to stay here, to work hard and play well.I had a good relationship with the fans from the start. We had some good games and some bad games but I think in the end we did a good job.
“It was my first year so it was very difficult but I think I did well. It could have been even better but we won a trophy, which is always important, and we finished third.It’s important to rest well because we had a tough season with a lot of ups and downs. We were tired physically and mentally but now we are ready and preparing to have a great season.”
Sarri is gone and now Kovačić has his work cut out to impress new Chelsea head coach and legend, Frank Lampard, especially with a crowded midfield at his disposal. If the first pre season game is anything to go by, Kovačić should be happy to notice the use of a double-pivot which should suit him perfectly.
The primary focus of preseason is of course to shake off the rust and get into shape for the start of another gruelling season. Conte took the idea of ‘work’ to a new level at Chelsea, the mantra resulting into silverware. It sounds like Lampard believes in similar values, which apparently has resulted in Kovačić already working harder this first week than he’s ever worked in preseason.
“I’m looking forward to working hard - I’m enjoying it but already it’s been very tough. I’ve never had such a hard start! The coach has said how important it will be to work hard and prepare for a long and tough season. It’s the most important time of year because you’re preparing in one month for the whole year. We will have some big games, we already have a final for the Super Cup, so we need to prepare well to win an early trophy.
“We have two big games to start the season but we’re players who like to play big games so it will be nice. I think the whole team and staff is motivated and that’s important now.I want to win a lot of games and a lot of trophies. The most important things in football are to enjoy yourself, play well and win trophies.”
Kovačić has shown himself to be quite versatile, able to play anywhere in central midfield, but his game is severely lacking in goals. His final season at Inter saw him notch a career high five goals; he has scored just three in the four season since. Perhaps some tips from the greatest goalscoring midfielder in Premier League history may help?
“I’m looking forward to working with him a lot. He was an amazing player and he showed last season that he is a good coach as well. I’m looking forward to learning how to score from him because he scored quite a lot and me not so much last season!
“I’m maybe not exactly the same type of midfielder as he was but he had some strong abilities, especially scoring goals. He was a hard worker so I’m looking forward to being better in this aspect, in working hard, fighting on the pitch and scoring goals.”
- Mateo Kovačić; source: Chelsea FC
Kovačić has the talent to be a most excellent midfielder. Here’s hoping he fulfills his immense potential in Chelsea colours starting this season.