Mateo Kovacic transfer decision made by Stamford Bridge chiefs

CHELSEA are not planning to sign midfielder Mateo Kovacic on a permanent basis.

Kovacic, 24, has been a regular in Maurizio Sarri’s side, making 12 appearances in all competitions since his arrival on a season-long loan deal from Real Madrid.

A permanent clause was not included in the terms of the temporary arrangement so Chelsea would have to negotiate with the Spanish giants from scratch.

And Starsport understands the Premier League title contenders currently have no plans to keep the Croatia international.

Kovacic has been reluctant to comment on his long-term future.

When asked last month about staying at Chelsea on a long-term deal, he said: “It’s too early for these questions. I am here and very happy.

“[Playing regularly] is good. I’m a little bit tired. I was not used to playing every three or four games and here it is very tough football.

“You can’t relax against anybody so it’s a little bit difficult but I really enjoy it. We have a great team, great fans and the city is nice. I like it a lot here.”

Kovacic’s place in the team has come under threat in recent weeks amid Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s fine form.

And Martin Keown believes Chelsea should prioritise Barkley and Loftus-Cheek by terminating Kovacic’s loan deal.

“I honestly believe that had Maurizio Sarri known just how good Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were, Chelsea would not have taken Mateo Kovacic on loan,” the Arsenal legend told the Daily Mail.

“It’s a nice problem for Sarri to have.

“You cannot drop N’Golo Kante so there are three players fighting for one midfield berth.

“If Chelsea had to make a choice between Kovacic and Loftus-Cheek, I would rather send Kovacic back to Real Madrid than send Loftus-Creek out on loan.”

Kovacic joined Real Madrid from Inter Milan in 2015 but failed to nail down a regular spot at the Bernabeu.

He won three Champions League titles and one La Liga crown but a lack of minutes saw him drop to the Croatia’s bench at the World Cup.

Kovacic will be hoping to start when Chelsea host Crystal Palace on Sunday (4pm).

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