According to reports in the English media this afternoon, La Liga giants Real Madrid have informed Manchester City of the sum that will be required to sign Mateo Kovacic this summer.
Since his move to the Bernabeu from Inter Milan in the summer of 2015, Croatian international Kovacic has endured an up-and-down spell with Los Blancos, finding himself confined to the bench for much of his stint in the Spanish capital.
However, following just 8 La Liga starts during his debut campaign with the club, the 24-year-old went on to solidify himself as an important member of Zinedine Zidane’s squad during the 2016/17 campaign, starting 19 league outings for the eventual Spanish champions.
A number of increasingly impressive displays were backed up by a sensational pre-season for Kovacic, with the classy midfielder having started and starred in Real’s ‘friendly’ victory over fierce rivals Barcelona in Miami, as well as both of their Spanish Super Cup wins over the Blaugrana.
‘Not for sale’
However, with Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro already to contend with at the Bernabeu, and Real having beaten a host of top clubs to the signing of Spanish midfield prodigy Dani Ceballos last summer, several European giants were subsequently linked with moves for Kovacic.
In the end, the gifted Croat stayed put, though, with Real director Jose Angel Sanchez having had the following to say regarding Kovacic’s future in the Spanish capital:
‘Kovacic is not for sale, we will never sell him.’
‘He is one of the players the club’s future relies on.’
‘Time for me to play’
But, after the Dinamo Zagreb youth product managed just 10 La Liga starts this past season, rumours have once again been rife in the media that Kovacic could be on the move over the coming months.
Speaking in an interview with FourFourTwo last month, the 46-time capped international admitted that the possibility of seeking pastures new this summer in search of more regular playing time was an option which he was taking into serious consideration:
‘I believe I’ll play more, whether in Real or somewhere else.’
‘Now is the time for me to play.’
‘Offers? I am under contract with Real and I wish not to comment on other clubs.’
‘Best if I go to another club’
And, speaking in a further interview regarding his future with Spanish outlet Marca 3 weeks ago, Kovacic confirmed once and for all his intention to depart the Bernabeu this summer:
‘I also know that it’s difficult to play as a starter at Madrid, especially because I was very young when I came here.’
‘I understand the situation, and that’s why I think it’s best if I go to another club, where I have the opportunity to play regularly as a starter.’
It’s an opportunity I think I can get and one I want right now. Every player is important at Real Madrid.’
‘However, the problem is that for a young player, it’s difficult to have continuity, and without that continuity I’ll never be able to show my full potential.’
As such, clubs are now said to be queuing up in the hopes of snatching the Croatian away from the Spanish capital, with the likes of Manchester United, Juventus and, most recently, Manchester City linked.
The Citizens are known to be on the lookout for reinforcements in the middle of the park this summer, with Pep Guardiola’s first-choice target Jorginho having of course joined Chelsea yesterday.
As such, the Premier League champions are rumoured to have switched their attentions firmly to Kovacic, but, as per reports from the Daily Star and more this afternoon, City may well be put off by Real Madrid’s valuation of their gifted midfielder, amid claims that Los Blancos want no less than £80 million for Kova’.
After the board at the Etihad refused to stump up any more than £55 million for prime target Jorginho, it seems unlikely that the Sky Blues would be willing to meet such a valuation for Kovacic.