Real Madrid have completed the signing of Inter Milan midfielder Mateo Kovacic for £25 million, but is this a good bit of business for Los Blancos?
The signing of Kovacic was certainly an unexpected one, but one that Inter needed to happened due to their already large spend this summer and the implications on Financial Fair Play.
The Croatian midfielder is one of the brightest talents in Europe and has bags of potential, but perhaps this move has come too early for the player.
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Kovacic is a wonderfully adaptive player, someone who can play behind the striker or play deeper, pulling the strings from midfield. But it is his work-rate in the engine room that has probably most impressed Rafael Benitez.
The 21-year-old is more than capable of picking a good pass, as well as winning the ball back for his team. His biggest strength is his ability to drive from deep with the ball and opening space for his teammates.
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However, the one big criticism that gets pointed at Kovacic is his inconsistent performances and is never a guaranteed starter under Roberto Mancini.
Madrid already have plenty of options in attack and midfield, so it is unlikely we will see the Croatia international play in the number ten position, but more likely in the heart of the engine room.
The midfielder is certainly not in a position to displace either Toni Kroos or Luka Modric, but he will certainly act as an adequate replacement, especially in the long-term. Kovacic has signed a six year deal with the club, so clearly Real Madrid feel they are buying potential and a player who can develop enormously under their current squad.
Benitez has traditionally looked to use two defensive minded holding midfielders in his preferred playing style, but Kroos and Modric do not really offer that kind of protection, with both players preferring to play in the opposition half.
With Sami Khedria having departed for Juventus and Xabi Alonso leaving a year before to go to Bayern Munich, Madrid are looking short in their squad in terms of defensive midfielders.
Although Kovacic has the potential to be a fantastic player, he probably wasn't the right sort of player Benitez should have gone after. Instead, a more imposing defensive minded player, such as a Nemanja Matic or Thiago Motta would have been a better fit.
Real Madrid will probably sweep aside the majority of teams in La Liga, but in Europe you need a player who can break up play and protect your back four.
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