Get up to date on Arsenal transfer news, injury updates, fixtures, not restricting reports on Arsenal Ladies and share your opinions on Goonerhead
Mateo Kovačić is a Croatian international currently playing for Real Madrid, but could be on his way out in search of more playing time and Arsenal are reportedly interested in making a deal.
Linz (Austria) born Mateo Kovačić is a Croatian midfielder who is showing great signs of talent that is yet to fully flourish.
The 23-year-old started his youth career at Austrian clubs before moving to Dinamo Zagreb where he made his senior debut and played for three years before making a €11m move to Inter Milan. In 2015, after two seasons in Italy, Real Madrid came in, offered €31m and made him their player.
Kovačić has never established himself as a first team player at the Bernabeu, as the competition in the Real Madrid squad is fierce for every position and the player was often behind his Spanish counterparts and James Rodriguez who came one season earlier for €75m.
He did manage to play in 39 games for Real Madrid but almost half of those appearances came from the bench. Kovačić scored two goals and added three assists.
His international career started in 2013 and so far he has collected 34 caps for Croatia.
Kovačić is a complete midfielder and can play in every central position, and is well suited for a box-to-box role.
When he started his career he played as an attacking midfielder, but after the move to Inter he was often deployed as a regista or a deep-lying playmaker and that role made him even better. He makes an average of 1.7 tackles 0.78 interceptions per-game
His dribbling is simple but very effective, and the player is one of the best in the game at holding the ball. When he makes a forward run, with a few simple turns and changes of pace he can leave multiple opponents behind and open up space that wasn’t even there in the first place. With an 81.94% successful take-on rate, he does that on a regular basis.
His passing combined with his forward runs makes him a dangerous player for the opposition. On average, 91% of his passes find their target and he creates 0.63 chances and 0.52 key passes per-game.
The numbers for created chances could be higher, but the fact is he often plays as one of the two holding midfielders meaning that he doesn’t get in the final third very often.
At 5″ 8′ he isn’t a short or tall player, but his weak physical strength makes him an easy target for far stronger players. Kovačić also has plenty of problems when faced with high balls. He wins only one third of all aerial duels, and for the 1.7 tackles he wins, he loses 2.
His holding of the ball is remarkable, but on occasion he can hold possession for too long and it can disrupt the attacking flow of his team. That’s one part of his game that could use more guidance and tutoring from more experienced players.