The Croatian has made it clear that he sees his future away from the Santiago Bernabeu but Los Blancos are hugely reluctant to let him leave, despite the fact that his appearances have been sporadic since his transfer from Internazionale in 2015.
Julen Lopetegui needs time to assess his squad before the start of the new La Liga season and it’s perhaps for that reason that Real have slapped a prohibitive €90 million price tag on him.
Not that such figures are beyond the Citizens, but their reluctance to match it is intriguing.
At only 24 years of age, Kovacic has a wealth of experience under his belt already.
Two league titles from the age of 16 with Dinamo Zagreb saw his move to Inter pushed through whilst he was still a teenager.
His time in Italy was a success, injuries notwithstanding, so it was with huge regret that Roberto Mancini had to cash in on the youngster to ensure that the neroazzurri didn’t fall foul of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules.
With Rafa Benitez at the helm, the youngster’s start at Real Madrid saw him played right across the midfield, evidencing his talent at being able to adapt to any role asked of him.
It was in a more attacking role that he excelled, but once Benitez was shown the door, his replacement, Zinedine Zidane, had other ideas in terms of personnel.
Despite Real enjoying one of their more prolific periods since he joined, Kovacic has been a bit part player at best, although that’s in no way a reflection on his abilities.
Simply put, Zidane preferred other options, and by and large has stuck fairly rigidly to them. With three successive Champions League titles, one can’t really argue.
However, with the Frenchman now off of the scene, Kovacic has the chance to convince Lopetegui that he’s worthy of a starting spot.
As the days tick down until the end of the transfer window – an earlier end this year than any other – having to prove himself all over again doesn’t appear to be something that the player is willing to accede to.
Not when there are interested parties who are willing to guarantee him match time.
Kovacic is made for City’s style of play, given that he can break at pace, pop off passes left and right with accuracy and with ease, provide a supplementary presence in attack as needed, or get his foot in defensively when required.
He’s far from a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ and each role appears to be one he can play with consummate ease.
Therefore, whilst not quite indispensable, he would be able to meet Pep Guardiola’s specific demands.
It therefore begs the question as to why the he and his paymasters in the blue half of Manchester are baulking at the price quoted, and, on the face of it, not even attempting to enter into negotiations.
Real can’t afford to keep an unhappy player even if they have just lost Cristiano Ronaldo and Zidane, with others rumoured to want out.
With only 24 days until City’s Premier League opener against Arsenal, Guardiola is leaving things very late indeed.
Time will tell if he’ll come to regret not bagging the player when given the chance.
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