Mateo Kovacic is seen as one of the finest young talents in world football. The highly rated Inter Milan midfielder recently completed a move to one of the biggest clubs in the world, Real Madrid. The 21-year-old will have huge pressure on his shoulders straight away. He is not someone like Martin Odegaard, who has been signed for the future. Even at this young age, Kovacic will have to shoulder the responsibility of being in the centre of the park for a big team like Madrid.
His time at Inter Milan may not have provided him with the experience of challenging for trophies, as the Italian club has spent the last five years struggling to reach the heights of 2010. However, he will be expected to replace Luka Modric at the Santiago Bernabeu. Modric has certainly become one of the most important players at Madrid. Even after the managerial change that saw Rafa Benitez take charge of the senior team, Modric position at the club looks set to remain important.
Kovacic is not just seen as the successor for Modric within Real Madrid, but within the Croatian national team too. Prior to joining Inter Milan, the midfielder played for three seasons at Dinamo Zagreb. After joining Madrid, he said:
“Real Madrid is the biggest club in the world, I have no doubt about it. This opportunity only comes once in a lifetime.
“When they told me about Real’s offer, you don’t have any doubts. I am young, I have a lot to learn and I hope I can give the best of me.
“To be able to share the changing room with such great players, it’s truly an honour.”
The player undoubtedly has immense potential, but it is also a huge gamble for the Spanish club. They have signed several highly talented youngsters in the last few years. Sergio Canales and Asier Illarramendi are some of the flops. The lack of first-team football has been attributed to some extent for their failure. There is in danger of Kovacic suffering the same since he has not been the most consistent players Madrid would have bought. Even at Inter, Kovacic had the ability to stun the opposition with a brilliant piece of skill but he was unable to sustain it over the course of a few games or even 90 minutes.
He has also not been helped by the occasional injuries too. Kovacic was not a first-team regular at Inter – a club that had not qualified for the Champions League in the last four seasons. The competition for a first-team spot will only be higher at Madrid. It remains to be seen if the 21-year-old can cope with more competition. If he does, Madrid may have a gem on their hands. He has cost the club an astonishing € 32 million along with further € 3 million in performance related bonuses.