Joe Cole is a fan of Matteo Kovacic.

Joe Cole gives his honest opinion of Mateo Kovacic before BATE 0-1 Chelsea

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Chelsea managed to scrape past BATE Borisov on Thursday night to seal their progression to the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Olivier Giroud scored the only goal of the night in what was a poor performance from Chelsea.

And Maurizio Sarri admitted his side did not perform very well on the night.

"We didn’t play very well," he said in his post match press conference, per "I didn’t like the first half.

"We moved it too slowly. It was very difficult to be dangerous, better in the second half. We didn’t manage the last 15 minutes well.

"The best thing is the result. It wasn’t very easy to play a good game here, with the conditions. I think we could have done better."

Sarri decided to go with a three man midfield of Jorginho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley on the night, meaning summer signing Matteo Kovacic had to make do with a place on the bench.

The Croatian midfielder is currently on a season long loan from Real Madrid and has been impressive in his short spell in London.

However, many Chelsea fans are still debating whether they should make the move permanent at the end of the season.

Joe Cole appeared on BT Sport as a pundit for the game and gave his honest opinion of Kovacic before the match kicked off.

Joe Cole claimed Kovacic is 'vital' to this Chelsea team

And it's fair to say he's a fan.

"He's different class," said the former Chelsea and West Ham playmaker on BT Sport, per "He's not a prolific goalscorer from midfield but when you watch him closely, what he does is drive with the ball.

"So teams are set up and straight away that's unnerving the back four because he's got that ability to ghost past players.

"Cesc Fabregas is a great player but Kovacic gives Chelsea what Cesc can't do, and that is drive and take players out of the game from a central position.

Matteo Kovacic is currently on a season long loan from Real Madrid

"And it then allows space for your Willians and your Hazards to receive the ball at their feet. He's vital to the way that Chelsea want to play.

"He would like to score more goals from midfield I'm sure.

"But he's one of those players that when he's not there, that's when you'll notice because he links the play from the defence to the attack so well."

Cole's words look even more true after today's game.

Barkley and Loftus-Cheek both struggled throughout. But when Kovacic came on, he immediately injected more pace into the midfield and made a few surging runs.

Chelsea struggled massively in Kovacic's absence against BATE and they should be endeavouring to sign him on a permanent basis before his loan comes to an end.

Maurizio Sarri
Jorginho Frello Filho
Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Mateo Kovacic
Ross Barkley
Olivier Giroud
West Ham United

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