Kovacic undergoes medical as Chelsea move nears completion


Croatia midfieder Mateo Kovacic is nearing a season-long loan move to Chelsea.

Kovacic will sign for the Blues on a one-year loan deal within the next 24 hours after undergoing his medical.

The 24-year old has struggled to nail down a starting berth at the Santiago Bernabeu placing behind Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in the pecking order.

Kovacic has now been offered an escape route that will take him away from Real Madrid to Chelsea on a season-long loan deal.

Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui has already spoken about the midfielder’s potential exit saying the club will seek to replace the Croat with a player of similar calibre.

The ex-Spain manager said: “There’s nothing 100 per cent certain yet,”

“Mateo has said he wants to leave. I want him to stay – he’s an important player. We’ll see how everything ends up. If he happens to leave, we’ll look for solutions,”

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“The solutions are something we’d speak about privately within the club. If Mateo does leave, a player of his level, which is extremely high, we’ll have to look for someone at that type of level.

“To reach all of our objectives we need to have a balanced team and he [plays] a very important position and he’s a very important player.”

The details of the loan deal are still unclear although it is suggested that there will be no buy-option included in the deal meaning Kovacic would return to the Spanish capital at the end of the campaign.

It is expected that following his loan spell at Stamford Bridge, Kovacic will take his place in Madrid’s midfield as Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are at the peak of their powers.

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Luka Modric is already linked with a move away from Real Madrid this summer as Serie A side Inter Milan hope to bolster their ranks with the midfielder’s addition.

Although Real Madrid are reluctant to sell the Russia 2018 Golden ball winner this summer, they might be tempted to consider a sale next summer in a move similar to Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Juventus.

At Chelsea, Kovacic will contest for a starting spot in Maurizio Sarri’s three-man midfield against Ross Barkley, Cesc Fabregas, Danny Drinkwater, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tiemoue Bakayoko.

Jorginho is expected to play the role of dictator in the Italian’s midfield as we have seen in pre-season games while N’golo Kante’s amazing work-rate and tackling will complement for the former Napoli midfielder.

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Kovacic will likely take the last role in midfield alongside the Frenchman and Italian.

Chelsea are also close to sealing a deal for Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The Blues aim to replace Madrid-bound Thibaut Courtois with the Spanish goalkeeper and have activated his €80 million(£71m/$92m) release clause.

His arrival will mean the world record transfer fee for a goalkeeper has been broken  twice this summer after Alisson’s £65m(€73m/$85m) move to Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Courtois has been absent from training since returning from holidays as he looks to force a move to the Spanish capital.

Real Madrid hope to get a deal done for the Belgian goalkeeper and have entered into discussions with Chelsea and Courtois is also keen on a return to the Spanish capital.