How Mateo Kovacic could fit in at manchester city

Following the reportedly “agreed” deal between Manchester City and Chelsea for Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic, we take a look at how the 29-year-old could fit in at the Etihad.

It has been reported by journalist Fabrizio Romano that Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic has “personal terms agreed” with Manchester City and that “the contract is ready, set to be signed.”

With veteran midfielder and club captain Ilkay Gundogan heavily linked with a move away from the Blues this summer, they will be keen to get this deal across the line early in the window.

However, Kovacic has a very different personality and profile than Gundogan and would not provide a like-for-like replacement in Pep Guardiola’s treble-winning midfield coming into the next campaign.


Kovacic may not be Gundogan, but he does fit the profile of a midfielder that Guardiola would adore in his side.

Being especially gifted in the ball-carrying department, Kovacic is very effective at bringing the ball from deep midfield areas, driving through the midfield, and being one of the best in the world at bringing his side into more advanced areas of the pitch.

Combine this with his ability to play incisive through balls from the midfield third into the attacking third, and you have qualities that Guardiola can be inventive with.

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Furthermore, press resistance is an attribute that is imperative to a Guardiola midfielder’s skillset and is a facet of Kovacic’s game, using ball manipulation and quick decision-making to evade incoming pressure.

Kovacic is also brave in possession and will take it upon himself to show for the ball in difficult moments, although at times he can lose the ball in dangerous areas. This is a trait that will be admired by Guardiola, who demands that his players display the courage to make themselves available to receive the ball.


However, no player is completely perfect, and like everyone else, Kovacic has some weaknesses that he may need to overcome if he is to grab ahold of a starting spot in the heart of the European champions.

Getting directly to the point, Kovacic lacks the ability to affect games in the final third to the standard that will be needed to lock down a place in this team.

Scoring a mere four Premier League goals and having assisted 13 times since his arrival in the 2018-19 season for Chelsea, he will need to improve his current record if he is to be successful at City.

Additionally, a prerequisite of playing in Guardiola’s midfield is a defensive work rate to regroup in transitions out of possession, which is an area of Kovacic’s game that has some room to improve in.

His defensive actions per 90 minutes are quite low for midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues, and he is quite ineffective in aerial duels; however, he has shown capabilities in his time at Chelsea to be able to press high.

How Pep can utilise Kovacic

Having a completely different profile from Gundogan and with Guardiola loving to reimagine his sides to get the best out of the skillsets of the players he has available, it is virtually impossible to say with confidence exactly how the Catalonian mastermind would utilise Kovacic’s abilities in his midfield next season.

However, when looking at his strengths and weaknesses, it is clear that Guardiola would need time on the training ground with Kovacic to develop him into a role that would allow him to flourish.

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Likely being assigned to the left side of the midfield, Kovacic could operate slightly deeper than Gundogan has been towards the end of this season, using his elite ball-carrying capabilities to bring the play into the final third.

If Guardiola can develop his understanding of arriving in the box at the right times to make him a more dangerous goal threat and teach Kovacic to become disciplined in defensive transitions, then this transfer could be a masterstroke.

This could provide Guardiola and Manchester City with another tool to add to their impressive weaponry of talent, as Kovacic’s ball progression through midfield could help them skip a phase of play, especially in games where the opposition is pressing high.

Overall, this is a transfer that could be hugely advantageous to City in the long term, but as usual, it could cause some teething problems in the opening season as Guardiola figures out exactly how he wants to use him.

For the rumoured price of £35 million and with Pep’s track record with signings, it would take a brave individual to bet against Guardiola getting the best out of such a talented midfielder.

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