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Manchester United Transfer News: Mateo Kovacic Eyed in Latest Rumours

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2018

Real Madrid's Mateo Kovacic leaves the pitch after being injured during a Champions League group H soccer match between Real Madrid and Apoel Nicosia at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Francisco Seco/Associated Press

Manchester United are reportedly interested in Real Madrid star Mateo Kovacic, but Los Blancos do not want to part with him.

According to MailOnline's Simon Jones, United are among those to take a keen interest in Kovacic's announcement of his desire to leave the Spanish capital, but Madrid "value him highly as a versatile and quality back-up to their midfield and are reluctant to sell."

He has three years remaining on his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu and a buyout clause of £264 million.

Per sports journalist Jonas Giaever, Kovacic recently told Marca of his need for more game time:

Jonas Giæver @CheGiaevara

Tomorrow's MARCA: "I want to play more and the best is that I leave Madrid" - Mateo Kovacic wants out of Real Madrid. Wants to be in a team that allows him to start. "If I don't play, I'm not happy". https://t.co/9Q9kl45rQE

The 24-year-old only started 21 of his 36 appearances for Los Blancos last season, with just 10 coming in La Liga, and he's made 109 outings overall since he arrived at Real from Inter Milan in 2015.

That Kovacic is not a key player is not a reflection of his quality, but rather the quality of those he has to compete with for game time.

He has a similar problem for Croatia, per football journalist Musa Okwonga:

Musa Okwonga @Okwonga

Croatia so good they could afford to keep Mateo Kovacic on the bench till eight minutes were left. Kovacic! The talent in that midfield is demonic.

The midfielder nevertheless made an impact from the bench in Croatia's 3-0 win over Argentina, per Scouted Football's Jake Entwistle:

Jake Entwistle @JakeEntwistle

Mateo Kovacic came on in the 81st minute, completed 6/6 passes, created as many chances (2) as any Argentina player managed the entire game, had as many shots as Messi (1) and got an assist. Definition of a cameo.

He's an excellent all-rounder; his work rate and willingness to put in a tackle helps him protect the back line, his dribbling helps him facilitate quick transitions—particularly on the counter—and his distribution is impeccable, allowing him to act as a playmaker in the centre or from deep.

Despite the acquisition of Fred, United are said to be in the market for another midfielder because Marouane Fellaini is expected to leave. The Belgian's contract expires at midnight on Saturday.

Kovacic may struggle to hold down a starting berth in Madrid, but it's not a problem he would encounter in many other sides.

He'd be an excellent capture for the Red Devils, but prying him away from Real will be extremely difficult and costly.

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