Midfielder Mateo Kovacic aims to hit the ground running at Stamford Bridge following his loan move from Real Madrid.
Following a 2017/18 season in which he struggled for playing time in Spain, the 24-year-old has joined the London outfit for one season and will vie for a starting spot in new manager Maurizio Sarri’s midfield.
Chelsea are already well stocked in that department – Italian midfield dynamo Jorginho has already been added to an armoury containing the likes of Danny Drinkwater, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Cesc Fabregas, Ross Barkley and N’Golo Kante – but the Croatian is still confident he can prove his worth to the Blues’ faithful.
“I am really happy and excited to be here at Chelsea. It is an amazing feeling,” he told the club’s official site. “I will try to do my best for this club. It is a new league for me, the beginning is always tough but I am sure the coach and my new team-mates will help me and I am looking forward to a great season.”
Luckily for the Croat, there’s likely to be one less contender for a starting berth in Sarri’s midfield following widespread reports that Tiemoue Bakayoko is on the verge of a loan move of his own to AC Milan on Saturday. That’s in addition to the confidence expressed by Sarri over Kovacic’s ability to complement his playing style.
“I think he has the characteristics for us,” said the former Napoli trainer. “Kovacic is a very technical player. “He is able to play between the lines of the opponent, for us that could be very important.”
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: “He is a perfect fit for us this season, his style is well suited to how Maurizio wants to play and we are sure he will prove to be a valuable asset for the club.
“We are very happy to welcome Mateo to the Chelsea family.”
Having played a role in Croatia’s unexpected run to the Russia 2018 final, Kovacic is unlikely to be fit enough for Saturday’s trip to Huddersfield Town – at least not as a starter. Nonetheless, with his work ethic and ability on the ball, he will hope 2018/19 can be a launching pad for what should be an exciting and trophy-laden future career.