Does Mateo Kovacic's signing make Real Madrid midfield the best in the world?
So it has happened. After a quiet summer transfer window this far, where only Danilo and Lucas Vasquez were bought, Real Madrid have purchased a player that has caused much fanfare. A trophy-less campaign last season gave people the impression that the club will spend big in the window to strengthen the team – which, it can now be claimed, they have done by spending for 60 million Euros on three players.
When James was bought and di Maria was sold in the last window, it left a little gap in midfield despite the fact that the Colombian had a terrific season. Also, with Luka Modric missing out almost the entire second of last season, Madrid suffered and they had no one to fill in the blanks.
The purchase of Mateo Kovacic was made keeping that in mind – to avoid a repetition of what happened next season.
What Kovacic offers to the team
The Blancos aren’t a typical club, not when compared to the others. Almost every other top club in the world have at least one destroyer in midfield, but not Real Madrid – they just don’t play that way. The Madrid club are more focused on creativity from deep – something that has cost them against the physically strong teams – and hence play with both the German and the former Spurs star.
And this is where the signing makes absolute sense.
In the Croat, Real Madrid have signed a fantastic prospect – someone who has the potential to be one of the best midfielders in the world in the near future. When Luka Modric or Toni Kroos are absent due to unavoidable circumstances, the team’s creativity from deep takes a hit.
But that won’t happen anymore with Kovacic on board.
The former Inter man is an all-round player on the creative end. He is a slick passer of the ball, has beautiful control, can dribble with grace and has an incredible burst of pace over short distances. It’s these qualities that make him a special player.
For the Croatian national team, he plays as a number 10 due to the presence of Luka Modric and the ever-so-brilliant Ivan Rakitic. He, however, operates best in the center-circle zone. Unfortunately for him, however, that position doesn’t exist in Rafa Benitez’s 4-2-3-1 and hence he will have to play deeper as a regista.
This might be a far-fetched claim but if someone can transform a highly talented number 10 to a world class regista and do a Andrea Pirlo, it is Mateo Kovacic.
The options that Real Madrid have
With the arrival of the Croat and Casemiro – who had a superb season at Porto – Real Madrid’s midfield has gone from strength to more strength. Where former Dinamo Zagreb boy brings creativity to the midfield, the Brazilian adds explosiveness to the mix – an ingredient that they never had last season.
If the pre-season is of any value to the measure the improvement of a player, then Isco has taken his game to another level and James is already looking like a better player than he was last season. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are seasoned campaigners and not much needs to be said about their ability.
The other midfielders – Asier Illarramendi and Lucas Silva – are most likely to leave as the club are overcrowded with 28 players in the first team and needs to be trimmed down to the allotted size of 25. However, Real Madrid might keep one of them as a precautionary measure.
In either ease, Real Madrid will, in the least, have on their hands, 6 incredibly talented players to fight for 3 positions – a headache that the manager of Real Madrid will love to have.
The midfield options of other teams
If one compares the Real Madrid midfield with that of the other teams, they would find it incredibly difficult to come up with one as good as theirs.
Bayern Munich also possess an elite-level midfield with the likes of Arturo Vidal, Javi Martinez, Thiago Alcantara, Xabi Alonso and Douglas Costa, but it doesn’t come close to Real Madrid’s especially after the departures of Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Although their midfield has more steel than that of the Blancos.
Then there is Manchester United. With a plethora of midfield talent, they rank among the top in Europe. A superb and balanced mixture of creativity, tenacity and explosiveness can be found in the roster of the Red Devils.
Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Daley Blind, Morgan Schneiderlin and Marouane Fellaini form one formidable bunch of midfielders – a group that has all the diversity a manager needs. Still, however, it doesn’t resonate like the names of Isco, James Rodriguez, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Casemiro.
All the top teams in Europe have strong midfields, but none better than – or equal – to that of Real Madrid’s. It might not have much of a rigid bite, with Casemiro being the only one who could be labeled as the strongman in the choices that Benitez has, but sheer quality of players transcends every other team in Europe.
With great power comes great responsibility – and it will be the former Napoli boss’ obligation to win silverware given the players he has at his disposable. And the class of the players probably just might do it for him.