New Telegraph

Manchester City Complete Kovacic Signing

Manchester City have completed the signing of Mateo Kovacic from Chelsea on a four-year deal.

The 29-year-old player made 221 appearances in five seasons at Chelsea, winning the Champions League, Europa League, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup, as well as collecting the club’s Player of the Year award in 2019/20.

He has so far won 95 caps for Croatia and was a key part of his country’s squad that reached the 2018 World Cup final and finished third at last year’s tournament in Qatar.

Kovacic said he was thrilled to be joining City where he says he can continue to develop under the guidance of manager Pep Guardiola and believes he is joining the finest team in world football.

“This is a brilliant move for me, and I cannot wait to get started with City,” Kovacic said.

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“Anyone who has watched this team under Pep knows how good they are for me, they are the best in the world. The trophies they have won are clear for all to see, but they are also the best footballing side out there.

“To be joining this squad really is a dream for any footballer.

“I still have plenty of learning and developing to do, and I know under Pep’s management I can become a better player, which is really exciting for me.

“My plan now is to rest for a few weeks before coming back to Manchester to prepare for the new season. I want to help this club stay at the top and win more trophies.”

Director of Football Txiki Begiristain added: “Mateo is an excellent footballer.

“He can play as a 6 or an 8, has plenty of experience at top-level clubs and he understands the Premier League. It was a very simple decision to bring him to City because he has the tactical and technical qualities we are looking for in a midfielder.

“He is someone we have monitored for a very long time and always we were impressed whenever we watched him.

“I am delighted he is here. This is a great signing for this club, and I am very excited to watch what he can do with Pep and the rest of our backroom team.”

Everyone at Manchester City is delighted to welcome Mateo to the club and we all wish him well during his time here.

Mateo Kovacic: Silk And Steel

Dinamo Zagreb, Inter, Real Madrid, Chelsea and now Manchester City.

It’s an esteemed path Mateo Kovacic has tread en route to the Etihad, and one which has seen him develop into one of the finest deep-lying midfielders in the game.

If one was to search for a player who embodies all the stellar qualities that personify what a Manchester City midfielder ideally embodies, Kovacic would top the list.

Across the course of his distinguished career to date, the 29-year-old has proved a player of the highest calibre, blending class, consistency and courage to hugely impressive effect.

Nicknamed ‘The Professor of Football’ by his Croatian colleagues when setting out on his international career, Kovacic arrives at the Etihad also armed with an innate reservoir of the highest football intelligence.

His medal collection alone is already the stuff of legend.

A haul of four Champions League winners’ medals, a Europa League, three UEFA Super Cups, three FIFA Club World Cups, two Croatian league titles, two Croatian Cups, a La Liga crown and a Spanish Super Cup bear testament to an already magnificent career.

But, for Pep Guardiola and the City coaching team, arguably just as telling has been the way Kovacic’s blue chip career to date has also seen him blend artistry with footballing flexibility of the highest order – a quality that has become synonymous with the way City play under the Pep’s tutelage.

Tracing the arc of his career journey to date, one of the constants running throughout his incredible journey has been the way Kovacic has adapted his game to suit the team, always putting the needs of the collective ahead of that of the individual.

A supremely gifted technician blessed with wonderful close control and dribbling ability, Kovacic began his career with Dinamo Zagreb in his native Croatia as a teenage attacking midfield prodigy.

His quality had been apparent from a very early age with a host of Europe’s leading clubs eager to sign him up from a young age.

But having opted to instead play for Zagreb, having returned to their ancestral home of Croatia from Austria where he was born, his quality was evident from the get-go, Kovacic becoming the youngest scorer in Croatian topflight history when netting on his Zagreb debut at the age of just 16.

His ability and technical prowess were immediately evident and having helped Dinamo to secure a domestic league and cup double in both 2010/11 and 2011/12, a host of suitors were making their way to Zagreb’s door.

Kovacic eventually opted to join Italian giants Inter in the winter transfer window of 2012/13.

The move to Milan saw Kovacic only further adapt and hone his own game. Either deployed further wide in the engine room or as a more deep-lying midfielder, looking to help build play from the back, it was evidence of his maturity, discipline, and intellect.

As with the most gifted of central European technicians, Kovacic also blended a touch of steel to supplement his silky skills. Indeed, former Inter boss Giovanni Trapattoni memorably described him as resembling a raging bull when powering up-field!

Those qualities also saw Kovacic establish a close bond with the Inter fans who relished his commitment, class and composure… both with and without the ball.

Whilst overseeing his development at Inter, manager Roberto Mancini – our title-winning boss from 2012 – also made plain his own appreciation of Kovacic’s many qualities.

“He’ll become a champion. Of course, he’s still lacking some things, but he’s improved a lot, and I think that’s shown,” the former City manager said of the then 20-year-old when speaking in 2015.

Having signed a new long-term contract with the Club that was due to take him through to 2019, Kovacic looked set to become an integral part of the Club’s long-term future.

Instead, financial issues forced the Italians to reluctantly part company with their most saleable asset in the summer of 2015.

Real Madrid was the grateful recipient, swooping to secure Kovacic’s services that summer.

For many, the move to a star-studded Bernabeu in the era of the Galacticos could threaten to overwhelm them.

For Kovacic however, he was content to continue to let his football do the talking. And that astute reading of the game, superb athleticism, fine passing attributes and a sharp eye for goal saw him play his part in what proved a golden era for the Spanish aristocrats.

A haul of three Champions League titles, two FIFA Club World Cups, two UEFA Super Cups, a La Liga crown and a Spanish Super Cup represented a formidable collection of honours in a period that saw Kovacic operate under both Rafael Benitez and Zinedine Zidane.

By the summer of 2018 – after having helped his native Croatia reach the World Cup final in Russia, with competition for places at Madrid intensifying another opportunity to further develop his career arose, this time in the shape of a move to Premier League rivals Chelsea, initially on loan before the move was made permanent 12 months later.

Once again, Mateo thrived on the challenge of adapting to life in a new country, new league and new culture instantly proving himself amidst the unique demands of arguably the most competitive and demanding league in world football.

He proved an instrumental figure as Chelsea claimed the 2019 Europa League under Mauricio Sarri and twelve months later, with Frank Lampard now at the Stamford Bridge helm, Kovacic was awarded the Chelsea Player of the Year award.

Fast forward 12 months and with another new manager at the helm in Thomas Tuchel – and the Croatian was celebrating securing a remarkable fourth Champions League crown, helping Chelsea edge out City in the 2021 European showpiece held in Porto, Portugal.

Further honours continued in the form of another UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup and Kovacic further endeared himself to the West London club.

And his impact was also felt amongst his Premier League and international contemporaries.

Now comes the latest challenge in a career that has hitherto been a byword for quality and success.

On those metrics alone, Kovacic and City look made for one another!

Season-by-Season stats

2010/11: Dinamo Zagreb

Played: 7 Goals: 1

2011/12: Dinamo Zagreb

Played: 37 Goals: 5 Assists: 7

2012/13: Dinamo Zagreb and Inter

Played: 37 Dinamo Zagreb appearances: 19 Dinamo Zagreb goals: 1 Dinamo Zagreb assists: 4 Inter appearances: 18 Inter assists: 2

2013/14: Inter

Played: 36 Assists: 4

2014/15: Inter

Played: 44 Goals: 8 Assists: 5

2015/16: Real Madrid

Played: 34 Goals: 1 Assist: 2

2016/17: Real Madrid

Played: 39 Goals: 2 Assists: 3

2017/18: Real Madrid

Played: 36 Assists: 3

2018/19: Chelsea

Played: 51 Assists: 2

2019/20: Chelsea

Played: 47 Goals: 2 Assists: 3

2020/21: Chelsea

Played: 42 Assists: 2

2021/22: Chelsea

Played: 44 Goals: 2 Assists: 6

2022/23: Chelsea

Played: 37 Goals: 2 Assists: 2

International career: Croatia – 2013-Present

Appearances: 95 Goals: 5 Assists: 8

Honours

Dinamo Zagreb

Prva HNL: 2010/11, 2011/12 Croatian Cup: 2010/11, 2011/12

Real Madrid

La Liga: 2016/17 Spanish Super Cup: 2017 UEFA Champions League: 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18 UEFA Super Cup: 2016, 2017 FIFA Club World Cup: 2016, 2017

Chelsea

UEFA Champions League: 2020/21 UEFA Europa League: 2018/19 UEFA Super Cup: 2021 FIFA Club World Cup: 2021

Croatia

World Cup 2018: Runners-upWorld Cup 2022: Third-Place

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