Mateo Kovačić (Croatia)
Croatia always seem there or thereabouts when it comes to competing in the World Cup. And with a squad that homes several players that apply their trade for some of the biggest clubs in the world, you can understand why they are so progressive on the international stage. As for their strongest area on the pitch, their midfield must surely take all the plaudits. Whilst central midfielder Luka Modric was paramount in Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League victory (an outcome which consequently led to Modric now sporting a much shorter haircut to the one we’re used to for this summers competition), fellow countryman and midfield all-rounder Ivan Rakitic has been equally as influential in a European club competition after playing an enormous part in Sevilla’s success in this years Europa League. Both players performances over the 13/14 season have certainly not gone unnoticed and Rakitic (more so than the settled Modric) is repeatedly linked with a big money move away to Barcelona or further afield to German Bundesliga or the Barclays Premier League.
But despite not putting a foot wrong all season and being two of the most highly admired and sought after central midfielders in the modern game, how can they possibly be under any pressure of losing their place to somebody else in this summer’s World Cup? This is where 20 year old Mateo Kovačić comes in…
Croatian Mateo Kovačić may not be a household name around the world yet, but the key word in that sentence is ‘yet’. As a Manchester City fan, I’m used to seeing young talented individuals previously of the Serie A making the tabloid headlines for all the wrong reasons but Mateo Kovačić dispels this and is doing the polar opposite, instead making the Italian headlines for the past 12/18 months for all the right footballing reasons. Previously of Dinamo Zagreb, the footballing birthplace of Luka Modric, a move to Internazionale and the platform the Serie A provides has proved to be the perfect move for Kovačić.
Not only has an ageing midfield at Internazionale allow him to the opportunity to shine, but the sheer fact that they’re no longer considered as the biggest challengers for the Serie A title anymore has meant youth have been favoured in recent years and it’s no coincidence Kovacic has thrived. Whether it be as the traditional deep lying playmaker role he favours or on either wing, Kovačić is certainly an exciting talent and one when given the opportunity as given at Inter Milan, will certainly add something different to the attacking threat wherever he plays. Obviously with such a strong midfield currently, it could be a case of it maybe being one World Cup to soon. Either way for me he is certainly one to keep an eye on and a hot prospect who I’m sure who’s reputation will elevate given the necessary exposure in months/years to come.