Back in 2011 reports surfaced claiming that Manchester United were on the trail of 2 Croatian teenagers. Following the fiasco that arose with United’s pursuit of Adem Ljajic and Zoran Tosic, the story failed to garner much attention.
Since then the duo in question, Mateo Kovacic and Mario Situm, have seen their careers take differing paths. Both emerging from the Dinamo Zagreb academy that produced the likes of Robert Prosinecki, Zvonimir Boban and Luka Modric, Situm finds himself still at Zagreb, albeit on loan at NK Lokomotiva, whilst Kovacic secured a €15m move to Inter Milan.
Back in 2011 it was claimed that the club’s bosses refused to sanction a £10m move for Kovacic but having continued to develop and prove his worth, could United resurrect their interest in the Croatian?
The 19 year old midfielder, rated as Dinamo’s best ever youth prospect, was described by Giovanni Trapattoni as “a mixture of Kaka and Clarence Seedorf” and is often praised for his maturity on field despite his age.
Employed as a deep lying playmaker, Kovacic can also perform in a more offensive role and his technical ability is often highlighted when speaking of his strengths. An accomplished short and long range passer, the youngster’s dribbling is also eye catching.
With United looking to strengthen in the midfield area, perhaps a move for the younger Kovacic would make more sense than a move for Fredy Guarin. Inter would demand a higher fee if interested in a sale, but at his age and with his potential, it could be money well spent.
The problem with buying in January is player suitability; how will the player settle, will they be eligible for competitions etc and that is one of the main positives in a move for Kovacic. Whilst there is no guarantee that he would settle in straight away, you would hope his maturity both on and off field (highly religious, Kovacic is nicknamed ‘The Alter boy) would aid his adaption and due to Inter Milan’s failings, he would be his eligible to play in Europe.
There is nothing to suggest that Inter would sell but with United watching Guarin at Inter, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that Kovacic has also caught the club’s eye. And with a number of midfielders unlikely to make the move for varying reasons, Kovacic would be a great alternative.