Mateo Kovacic has gotten used to his new life at Manchester City rather quickly and nearly without any problems. With a £25 million transfer from Chelsea, the Croatian international became the first of four significant additions this summer. Having led Man City to the treble crown in June, Ilkay Gundogan left enormous shoes to fill.
Considering Gundogan’s position within the squad hierarchy, Mateo Kovacic was never viewed as a direct replacement. However, the 29-year-old has fit in so well that it’s becoming difficult to envision the club without him. It appears as though he has been around for 479 games even though he has only played 479 minutes of competitive action with his new team.
Even for a midfielder with extensive Champions League and international experience, integrating into a new squad is not always easy. When that new team is City, it is even more difficult to adjust. Mateo Kovacic, however, has been eager to take things up right away and seems to have done so.
Kovacic is very happy to learn from Pep Guardiola
Kovacic acknowledged this during the preseason, saying
“I have only been here for two weeks now but you can see straight away that he (Guardiola) has clear ideas of what he is looking for. It is on another level. I came here to learn and I think he is the best coach in the world. To learn from him is a good feeling, especially for a midfielder.”
Mateo Kovacic further added
“He can teach me the best times to move. This is also why I came here. To learn to be a better version of myself.”
Mateo Kovacic was undoubtedly City’s finest player against Fulham on Saturday, a game in which Erling Haaland grabbed another hat-trick. The Norwegian was at his clinical peak but burst into flames in a matter of seconds. While Haaland’s new comrade continued to work and it is amazing to watch how quickly he has taken things up.
Mateo Kovacic seems to fit into the City squad right away
It takes some time to get accustomed to Pep Guardiola, one of the most tactically intricate managers in history. The City manager expects perfection right away in a system that the majority of new arrivals have never seen. Pep will also drop them without hesitation if they fall short.
Some of City’s key players throughout the Guardiola era struggled to adjust to life in Manchester, except for Mateo Kovacic. Most recently, Jack Grealish joined the Sky Blues in a £100 million transfer from Aston Villa. He was scrutinized during his first season with the club.
Riyad Mahrez, a fellow winger, moved from being a star at Leicester who practically had free reign to become a part of the City system. The most crucial player for Guardiola, Rodri, found himself competing for playing time with the seasoned and seemingly indispensable Fernandinho.
In order to prove his talent last season, Nathan Ake had to spend two seasons on the outside after struggling to transition from Bournemouth to City. Both John Stones and Joao Cancelo had challenging starts to their careers under Guardiola.
Although Mahrez and Cancelo no longer make up the basis of City’s team, all six of the players did succeed in meeting Guardiola’s expectations. The manager was understanding of how challenging it was to learn the system and was patient as they each took their own time to adjust.
Mateo Kovacic, who played his sixth game on Saturday like it was his 600th, hasn’t experienced anything like that. The £25 million player appears to be the summer’s biggest deal.
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