Name: Mateo Kovacic
Club: Inter Milan
International Caps: 10
Manchester United fans prayed last season for more creativity from their midfield, and they should look no further than Mateo Kovacic to supply an answer. Croatia’s 20-year-old playmaker is yet to be considered a key figure in the national setup, but having featured six times in World Cup qualifying at such a tender age, he is a player regarded very highly.
The Inter Milan midfielder has drawn comparisons with his fellow countryman, Luka Modric, in his style of play. His vision and range of passing is of the highest quality. Whether it’s in a deeper midfield role, or as a traditional ‘number 10’, Kovacic looks to dictate play and find pockets of space to turn and move in.
In Serie A last season, he provided four assists from a deeper role for Inter – which is more than all of United’s central midfielders combined in the Premier League. Whilst he boasted a 90 per cent pass completion statistic in his 32 games, it is his ability dribbling the ball in anywhere on the field which is most impressive. Kovacic completed an incredible 74 per cent of his take-ons, and in this aspect of his game he is not too dissimilar to Ross Barkley.
Croatian coach, Niko Kovac, has the tantalising prospect of teaming Kovacic up with Modric and Sevilla’s Ivan Rakitic in Brazil. Whilst the trio may not be the most defensively-minded midfielders, they have the razor-sharp movement, and quick-witted abilities on the ball to tear into any defence.
Whether Kovacic is granted a starting berth or not during the World Cup, he will most definitely get his chance to shine. Kovacic’s positive, more penetrative style is something that United have lacked this season. He may lack experience, but if Louis van Gaal makes a swoop for Kovacic this summer, he could be on to a winner.