CHELSEA will see the best of Mateo Kovacic’s “enormous potential” if they play him regularly.
That’s the opinion of Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic.
Kovacic made 36 appearances for European champions Kovacic last season although many of those came from the bench with Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro among those ahead of him in the pecking order in the Spanish capital.
And as a sweetener for Thibaut Courtois’ £35million move from Chelsea to Real Madrid, Kovacic was sent on loan to Stamford Bridge for the current campaign.
The Croatian midfielder has started the last two matches for Maurizio Sarri’s side against Newcastle and Bournemouth and helped the Blues to a 2-0 win over the latter at the weekend.
The 24-year-old has not had chance to realise his talents at the Bernabeu having struggled to consistently break into the first team given the quality and depth available at Real Madrid.
Since arriving from Inter Milan in August 2015, he has only made 37 starts in the league – including just 10 last season.
And having shown promise in his box-to-box role at Chelsea, Dalic – who took Croatia to the World Cup final in Russia earlier this summer – believes the Premier League heavyweights can see the best of the player if he continues to play regularly.
Dalic told Croatian newspaper Sportske Novosti: “He has done well to change clubs. He can only progress by playing constantly.
“At Real Madrid, he played now and again, and that was not enough for him.
“He has enormous potential. I hope he will have more opportunities at Chelsea.”
Kovacic’s one-year loan reportedly does not include an option to make the move permanent given that Modric turns 33 next week and Kroos is 29 in January.
Real will hope to be able to offer him a more important role next summer in the hope of keeping the versatile midfielder on board.
In his absence, Madrid have began their post-Cristiano Ronaldo era with aplomb – winning three La Liga games from three under new manager Julen Lopetegui.
Both Chelsea and Real Madrid enjoy a two-week break for the current international break, in which Kovacic and Modric’s Croatia face Ronaldo and Portugal in the UEFA Nations League on Thursday (7.45pm UK time).
Kovacic will hope to feature again for Sarri’s Chelsea as they take on winless Cardiff on Saturday 15th, while his parent club Real Madrid travel to Athletic Bilbao the same day.