As per a report from Spanish outlet AS this evening, Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic is expected to depart the club 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 week, the 41-time capped international admitted that the possibility of seeking pastures new this summer in search of more regular playing time is an option which he is 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.’
‘Likely’ to depart
And, as per the aforementioned report from AS this evening, one of Kovacic’s numerous suitors could well see their pursuit of the midfielder come to fruition this summer, amid claims that ‘an immediate move away from the Bernabeu is the most likely scenario’ for the Croat.
However, AS add that the change at the helm in the Spanish capital could yet convince Kovacic to change his mind, but only if he is guaranteed a regular starting spot by incoming manager Julen Lopetegui.
The Spanish publication adds that Juventus are waiting in the wings for Kovacic, with the Bianconeri having already made contact with the former Inter Milan man to gauge his interest in a move to Turin.