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Real Madrid Reportedly Set £80M Mateo Kovacic Price Amid Manchester City Links

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2018

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 27: Luka Modric of Real Madrid and Mateo Kovacic of Real Madrid celebrate with the trophy after winning yesterday's Uefa Champions League Final match at Cibeles Square on May 27, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Real Madrid have reportedly set a firm £80 million price tag for Mateo Kovacic amid links with Manchester City.

Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star exclusively reported Los Blancos have informed City of their valuation and that they're not prepared to accept anything less.

City are said to want Kovacic after they missed out on Jorginho, who joined Chelsea from Napoli on Saturday.

The Croatian could feature in the World Cup final on Sunday, though during the tournament he has often been on the bench, with manager Zlatko Dalic instead preferring the trio of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic.

Despite the talent in front of him, Rory Smith of the New York Times has struggled to fathom why he has not been used more for his national side:

Rory Smith @RorySmith

I understand why Mateo Kovacic doesn't start for Croatia, but equally I do not understand *why* Mateo Kovacic doesn't start for Croatia.

Kovacic has encountered a similar problem at the Santiago Bernabeu, where he's been behind Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro in the pecking order.

The 24-year-old started just 21 of 36 appearances in all competitions last season and only completed 90 minutes seven times, three of which were in the Copa del Rey.

A superb box-to-box player and all-rounder in midfield, he can pick out a pass, beat opponents on the dribble or reclaim possession.

Managing Madrid's Kiyan Sobhani noted how difficult it is to win the ball cleanly off him, such is his technical ability:

Kiyan Sobhani @KiyanSo

Sometimes I feel like the only way to stop Kovacic with the ball is to drive a train into him

He rarely gives it away with a misplaced pass either, thanks to his unerring distribution:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Mateo Kovacic has attempted 88 passes in 102 minutes at the 2018 World Cup, misplacing just two of them. 97.73% pass accuracy as it stands. https://t.co/xzsR0rYHgy

Kovacic would fit in well at the Etihad Stadium under manager Pep Guardiola, but Real's determination to have their valuation met will likely prove off-putting for the Citizens.

According to Stuart Brennan of the Manchester Evening Newswho reported City will not target an alternative to Jorginho—the Premier League champions would rather walk away from a transfer target than pay more than their own valuation.

If City do decide to pursue another midfielder, it seems they'll look elsewhere.

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