Mateo Kovacic has become a popular name in English football, as some of the biggest clubs in the Premier League apparently have eyes for the Croatian youngster.
Unfortunately for them, Kovacic only has eyes for Inter, at least at the moment, per FIFA.com:
Mateo Kovacic has brushed aside speculation linking him with a move to England this summer, with the Croatian midfielder keen to remain at Inter Milan. The 19-year-old is a reported target of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal but is tied to the Italian outfit for a further five years.
'I am happy because I arrived to Inter, a great club,' Kovacic said on the club's official website,www.inter.it. 'I'm still adapting, I am young and I have to improve so much. But I want to become a leader at Inter.'
It's not hard to see why English clubs are enamored. The 19-year-old is excellent on the ball and has brilliant footwork. His ability to pick a pass is also impressive. Although, his movement off the ball continues to be a work in progress.
Kovacic has made just nine starts for Inter in Serie A play this year and has yet to score a goal (he does have an assist). Still, he has made 27 total appearances and has earned a solid if unspectacular 6.79 average match rating from WhoScored.com. His 90.1 pass success percentage and two key dribbles per game are also strong marks.
There is a lot to like about the young midfielder, and for an Inter club looking to return to prominence—they are currently fifth in Serie A—keeping him around for the future is vital.
Or is it?
While Kovacic has denied any rift between he and manager Walter Mazzarri, there's no denying that his minutes per game have decreased or that he may not be a great fit for the manager's style, as David Wilson of ESPN FC elaborated on in March:
The strength of Kovacic's game is going forward, but that is not Mazzarri's style, which is 'defence first.' Earlier this season Mazzarri was asked about Kovacic's comments that he was too defensive and the Inter boss responded: 'I think he meant that he has to improve the defensive side of his game. He believes in what I tell him. I've spoken to him about it.'
That's the shred of hope that Kovacic's suitors in England will be holding onto. They'll be hoping that Kovacic is playing nice at the moment in case he does end up staying at Inter, that he's trying not to raise any flags for other interested clubs by rocking the boat at his current club.
Or, perhaps Kovacic is being genuine at the moment, but the situation at Inter might convince him down the road he'd be a better fit at a club more inclined to let him express his natural game and get forward more on the attack. It's hard to imagine his comments will suddenly dissuade other clubs from pursuing him.
So, yes, this is a temporary blow for the Manchester Uniteds and the Liverpools and the Arsenals of the world. Kovacic, for the moment, seems content to stay. But one would guess his name would pop up in plenty of rumours over the summer, nonetheless.