Finally Real Madrid have signed a player they actually need and who would have guessed that it would be none other than Benitez of all coaches who would give it this transfer a green. Since Ronaldo joined Real Madrid, not a single Real Madrid manager has actually signed a player which was needed rather than wanted by the team. Thank God for giving Benitez the common sense of setting a new precedent at Real Madrid.
Real Madrid have signed the 21 year old Mateo Kovacic, technically, from Inter Milan. From what we have seen from him at Inter Milan, he looks like a bad version of Luka Modric (which is a good thing as Kovacic is very young)who is also his teammate for Croatian National team.
Here is what I think Kovacic can give to Real Madrid:
- He is just 21 and has played in Serie A. Though his performances have been less than satisfactory, he has time on his side. Kovacic can give Real Madrid a good 15 years of solid midfield action. Real Madrid has the best coaching staff available in the world of football so the opportunities for Kovacic are limitless to say the least.
- Kovacic can run with the ball from deep midfield. Luka Modric can also do that but Toni Kroos can’t (neither can any other player at the position in Real Madrid squad)and Real Madrid got punished for it last season when Modric got injured. Not only Kovacic can run with the ball, he can also go past multiple opponents with the ball at his feet.
- He has a good through ball and can pass brilliantly in tight spaces. That would prove really useful here in La Liga where teams like to defend high and compress the space on the pitch.
- He has a reasonably good shot on him. He can shoot with both feet and can score goals. Not many though.
Problem With Mateo Kovacic
- He is young but inexperienced when it comes to highest level of football. No one knows how he will handle himself in La Liga or Champions League. Playing for Real Madrid is an added pressure and from what I have seen from Kovacic, he doesn’t take pressure situations very well.
- He is inconsistent. He played as a no.10 for Inter Milan a lot of times but his chance creation rate and scoring rate is not that good. It is reasonable but reasonable at Real Madrid is, well, not reasonable. His inconsistency could be down to the lack of playing time at Inter Milan but if that was a problem at Inter Milan, it would be apocalypse for Kovacic at Real Madrid in that department. He would be competing for a place in the starting line up against the likes of James, Modric, Kroos and Isco. Each of these players would pick themselves in the starting line up in any other team in the world. Except Real Madrid of course.
Why Did Benitez Sign him Then
I think Benitez gave the transfer a go was because:
- the payoff could be huge. He is 21 and for his age, he has a lot of knowledge about the state of play (something I discussed as a weak point in C.Ronaldo’s game.) and hence Benitez could be thinking on using him as a understudy of Luka Modric.
- Benitez obviously wanted to strengthen the defensive midfield slot in the Real Madrid line up. But that’s the problem. Kovacic is horrible at defending. No I am not talking about horrible as in he can’t defend like Pepe. I am talking about something even lower. He cannot even defend like Andrea Pirlo. As a midfielder (or even an attacker) you are, once in a while, required to track back and cut off passing lanes. You might also be required to press the opposition and make some tackles. Kovacic does none of that so a level that would be required at Real Madrid.
- Benitez could also have signed him because Kovacic gave one of his best performances against Napoli last season where Benitez was the coach. That might have played a role in Benitez rating the youngster highly. That also leaves further questions on the signing. Why would Inter Milan let go of a player so young and with so much potential at 21 for 30 million dollars?. The answer might be because Kovacic is supremely inconsistent.
Anyway, what do you guys think? Has Benitez played a masterstroke here or have Real Madrid been robbed (again!). Let me know your thoughts.