Chelsea have received a major boost in the efforts to overcome the transfer ban after signing Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid for around £40 million. The Croatian midfielder spent the last season at Chelsea on a loan deal, which did not have any option to make the move permanent. However, Kovacic will now remain at Stamford Bridge.
The deal is a boost for Chelsea, who have been affected by a transfer ban for the next two windows. However, the blues are able to complete the signing of Kovacic, as he was a player registered last season. The deal will go through if Chelsea complete the formalities before June 30 – when his loan deal expires.
Kovacic was a regular for Chelsea last season and he made 32 appearances for the club in the league. Just like many of the Chelsea players apart from Eden Hazard, Kovacic had a mediocre campaign. The 25-year-old failed to score a goal in any of his 51 appearances for Chelsea last season and he made only three assists – a far cry from Eden Hazard’s return of 21 goals and 17 assists last season.
Yet, Kovacic’s presence is crucial for the next Chelsea manager, who is likely to be Frank Lampard.
Former Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri struggled with an under-strength squad last season. After the long-term injuries to Callum Hudson Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, the squad has taken an even greater hit. However, the biggest blow for Chelsea will be the loss of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid. In such a scenario, Lampard, whose appointment as the next Chelsea boss should be confirmed in the next few days, has a difficult job on his hands.
Ross Barkley, N’Golo Kante, and Jorginho would have been the only fit midfield players to have survived from the last season. Even though players like Tiemoue Bakayoko and Mason Mount return from loan spells, Lampard would appreciate some consistency in the team. Lampard is largely expected to retain the 4-3-3 formation from the days of Sarri.
Kovacic was part of the three midfield players and the Croatian international was often handed responsibility to go forward. Even though Kovacic may have not excelled in terms of goals and assist statistics, the workrate of the midfielder was invaluable in the Sarri-ball philosophy. Apart from having the energy to go forward, Kovacic was also a good tackler and he can be the starting point of counter-attacks.
The appointment of Lampard can be a huge assistance to Kovacic’s career. The midfielder clearly has better technical ability than many of the Chelsea midfielders but he needs to add goals to his game. Lampard was one of the renowned goalscoring midfielders of his time. He remains as Chelsea’s all-time top scorer – quite a feat for a central midfield player. Most of the goals for Lampard came from a 4-3-3 formation.
Christian Pulisic is the only other new arrival for Chelsea in the summer, as the United States international was signed back in January and was loaned back to Borussia Dortmund.