The narrative around Mateo Kovačić appears to be shifting. Once assumed to be staying at Stamford Bridge after his season-long loan from Real Madrid, especially after it was reported that he’s the only signing Chelsea could still make despite the transfer ban, now the 25-year-old wants to return to Inter Milan instead.
At least that’s what reports today in Italy would have us believe, with Corriere dello Sport (via CalcioMercato) claiming that Kovačić would even be willing to make it just a loan again (but with a pre-agreed option to buy, unlike at Chelsea this past season). Whether Real would agree to that is an entirely different question of course.
While Kovačić has spoken repeatedly about his happiness in London and in the Premier League, in general, Chelsea insisted on excluding him as a factor in the Hazard-negotiations with Madrid, making it fairly obvious that we’re not placing too much emphasis on turning his loan into something more permanent. Recent reports have suggested that we’re taking our time (or playing a risky long game to lower the price from €50m), though we might want to hurry up a bit if we still want him, since the loan officially expires at the end of June, after which the transfer ban would prevent us from re-registering him as a Chelsea player.
The links with Inter have been around for a while, too, but Antonio Conte’s appointment has put any and all rumors into high gear. They are reportedly getting close to finalizing a deal for young Nicolò Barella (who came somewhat close to joining Chelsea in January), and could be looking to add even more midfield help with Kovačić, especially if they put the 31-year-old Radja Nainggolan out to pasture.
The one constant among all these competing reports is that Real Madrid don’t want Kovačić back, and he doesn’t want to return either. His sale could in fact be quite necessary as Madrid continue to their latest Galáctico splurge. (Jović ... Hazard ... Pogba? Wow.)
With some of the biggest uncertainties facing Chelsea this summer finding their resolutions, perhaps we’ll have an answer in this situation as well soon.