Mateo Kova?i? is officially a Chelsea player. The Croatian midfielder has moved to Stamford Bridge from Real Madrid on a one-year loan deal, in a deal loosely associated with the completion of Thibaut Courtois’ move in the opposite direction.
In Kova?i?, the Blues have a lot to look forward too. The Croatian personifies the colourful variety of Croatian football in recent years, like a precious diamond that shines incontrovertibly in the middle of the pitch.
New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri will be desperate to shape and educate the 24-year-old into a Premier League force, with his speedy, unpredictable, impeccable dribbling skills sure to prove a hit in English football. The midfield maestro is like a sponge – impregnated with technical skills and tactical knowledge, and he seems the ideal fit for a manager who, whilst pensively smoking his cigarettes, will convert Kova?i? into a jolly indispensable member of his squad.
His nickname among his Croatian teammates is ‘The Professor’. Why you ask? Because before taking to the hallowed turf, Kova?i? was a meticulous and accurate student, though not at school in front of the blackboard but at home in front of the television, watching football DVDs of his favourite player, Robert Prosinecki.
The Croatian legend was pacey and skilful, with his agile movement, close ball control and breathtaking vision among his other outstanding attributes. Young Mateo noted down all the skills required to emulate the great midfielder, knowing he would need to hone his craft in order to follow in his iconic footsteps.
Kova?i? first developed his skills at Dinamo Zagreb’s prosperous orchard, which in recent years has produced talents like Luda Modri?, Niko Kranj?ar and Eduardo. Having moved from Kotor Varos in Bosnia at the age of 13 – with his parents believing the club to be the most appropriate environment for their son to prosper in, the young midfielder began to develop his skills.
By that time, European scouts had already noticed him. German side Stuttgart offered him a move to Germany and a job at Mercedes for his dad – but the young midfielder declined the opportunity in order to join Zagreb. Yet just three years after making his debut in 2010, Kova?i? moved on to join Inter.
Nerazzurri captain Javier Zanetti had no doubts about his ability upon his arrival at San Siro, citing Kova?i? as perhaps the most talented footballer he had seen since the great Brazilian striker Ronaldo.
Back home, Kova?i? used to play as an attacking midfielder, taking on the role of ‘Trequartista’ by feeding venomous balls inside the box for Zagreb’s strikers. At ?Inter, he covered all areas of the midfield – flying down the touchline with pace and trickery at times, whilst bossing the centre of the midfield like an unstoppable guard dog on other occasions.
Versatility and adaptation to any position he plays in are key features of the 24-year-old’s repertoire. Real took advantage of the player’s astounding tactical knowledge and positional skills time and time again, utilising Kova?i? to fill gaps left by one of their stellar attacking talents.
Because of the vast talent pool available at Santiago Bernabeu though, the Croatian did not have the opportunity to step on the pitch as much as he would have liked – and perhaps, not as much as we as fans would have liked either.
Now with a loan move to Chelsea signed, sealed and delivered, Kova?i? may finally explode into life. As already alluded too, Blues’ manager Maurizio Sarri could light the fuse to spark his enviable talent into life.
Whatever the problem may be, the Croatian ace is a reliable solution. He has the quality and tenacity of the ideal number 10 – attentive, observant, fast and solid as a rock in central midfield. Traits that are fundamental when there is a either result to hold on to, or a goal is required.
Although he has adopted the role of a subdued central midfielder in recent seasons, it may be time for the Croatian to look back to his creative origins – particularly with the license that should be afforded to him with the presence of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante alongside him.
With an impressive CV already to his name, Kova?i? looks destined to earn more success wherever he goes during the reaminder of his career. The Premier League may be the perfect platform for the Croatian to impress further, and with prospects looking bright, it’s time for the Kova?i? carousel to premiere in the most electrifying league in the world.