MATEO KOVACIC has revealed that Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri was key in bringing the midfielder to Stamford Bridge.
Kovacic joined the Blues on a season-long loan as part of the deal that took goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid.
The Croatian made his Chelsea debut against Arsenal on Saturday, coming off the bench in a 3-2 win.
He completed all of his 43 attempted passes as he still fights for full fitness after helping his nation to the World Cup final in the summer.
Kovacic had become a bit-part player under Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid and it looked unlikely to change despite the arrival of Julen Lopetegui as new Los Blancos manager.
And the 24-year-old has opened up on the move that brought him from Spain’s capital to Englands premier city.
“First of all it was important that after three years of inconsistency in playing time in Madrid I’ve got into a team that wants me and a coach that wants and trust me,” Kovacic told Sport Klub.
“That’s how Chelsea happened. That’s what I really need now, as I said earlier I’m feeling really good and I want to keep it that way.”
“Well yeah, he (Sarri) knows me for a long time.
“I’ve watched a lot of his games, he likes to play and that’s what matters in my opinion.
“The squad is phenomenal with many great players that’s why it wasn’t so hard to adapt quick.”
Having started his career with Dinamo Zagreb, Kovacic joined Inter Milan before a €29million move to Real Madrid.
His move to Chelsea is the first time Kovacic has appeared in the Premier League and he’s spotted some key differences.
On his first taste of the Premier League, Kovacic added: “Well, the tempo is higher, there is more space, but as I said it’s not hard to adapt when you are surrounded by great players.
“I would thank to all fans that support me and I will make sure I payback on the pitch.”
But Chelsea boss Sarri has warned fans that it may take a while before Kovacic plays the full match.
“I am really very happy,” Sarri told ChelseaTV when asked about Kovacic. “But in my opinion in this moment Kovacic, and Hazard, are not able to play for 90 minutes.
“So I thought that it was better 25-30 minutes when the intensity of the game is going down, and Hazard has done two assists in two matches.
“So I am very happy, also because I think that Kovacic can improve a lot here.”