Who is Inter new boy Mateo Kovacic?
When Inter forked out €11m on transfer deadline day (and that fee could rise further with add-ons) to sign an 18-year-old Croatian youngster unproven at the top level, it left some questioning their transfer policy.
Is a player such as this going to be expected to have an instant impact? Is that enough to appease fans and help the Nerazzurri to challenge for the Champions League spots following the sales of Wesley Sneijder and Philippe Coutinho?
Well, if his potential is anything to go by, it could be one of the best bits of business Massimo Moratti has ever done in the San Siro hotseat and although he did hand over a lot of money to sign a player who is perhaps going to be of more benefit to the team in five years time that he is at the moment, the indications are that he could go on to repay that investment 10 times over.
The attacking midfielder is refreshingly graceful on the ball and the poise that he shows when dribbling will be sure to get Inter fans excited and out of their seats as he has done at the Maksimir with previous club Dinamo Zagreb.
He has been at that club since the age of 13 where they have welcomed scouts from all of the biggest clubs in Europe at one stage or another to watch the latest product of their conveyor belt of talent that has produced players like Eduardo, Luka Modric and Vedran Corluka as well as nurturing the talents of Mario Mandzukic.
They had rebuffed all approaches too, until now when Moratti came in with an offer for his Dinamo counterpart Zdravko Mamic that was too good to turn down and an opportunity for Kovacic that he simply could not say no to.
While he is, as already stated, a wonderful dribbler and is extremely comfortable with the ball at his feet, this is perhaps not even his biggest asset because both his ability to see a pass and then range and accuracy when picking them out is exceptional, and only going to get better playing alongside Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso and Fredy Guarin at Appiano Gentile.
Another product of that inspiring Dinamo youth set-up is ex-AC Milan star Zvonomir Boban and he is in no doubts about how good the player can be saying that he believes Kovacic can become a better player than he was while ex-Ancona and Perugia man Milan Rapaic said that there “is definitely a hint of Roberto Baggio about him.”
High praise indeed for Inter’s new number 10 and that praise was even higher from former international star Ivan Cvjetkovic who simply stated that “he is the greatest footballer ever born among the Croats.”
He is also a player whom Andrea Stramaccioni’s formations are ready made as the Beneamata have generally fielded a 3-4-1-2 or a 3-5-2 and he is versatile enough, having played in different positions in the Croatian capital. to adapt to playing either wide on the left or as a trequartista if required.
While at the start of his career he was most competent on the left of an attacking midfield, he has now become a more than able attacking midfielder, a position he made his own at Dinamo following the sale of star playmaker Milan Badelj and upon his departure, Kovacic stepped up, moving into middle and ensuring they would not miss the now Hamburg man too much.
The youngster enjoys dropping deep to pick up the ball and drive forward starting attacks and likes linking up the play for the forward men although does not score as much goals as many may expect from him.
What fans can expect from him at Inter though is a hungry young man determined to prove that expectations and faith in him is justified through quality, consistent performances from midfield throughout his time there and he clearly has the talent to do so.