Chelsea could extend Mateo Kovacic’s stay at the club despite the threat of a transfer ban looming over the upcoming transfer window.
The Croatian midfielder was signed on a one-year loan from Real Madrid last summer, with no option to make the transfer permanent at the end of the season.
However, according to the Mirror, Madrid have offered Maurizio Sarri’s side a lifeline by giving Chelsea the chance to extend Kovacic’s loan by another season – with a mandatory option to buy after the 2019-20 campaign.
The 24-year-old has made 44 appearances in his debut season in England, and though he has yet to score his first Chelsea goal he has been a combative presence in Sarri’s midfield as they push for a top-four finish in the Premier League and the Europa League trophy, having reached the semi-finals of that competition.
With Zinedine Zidane having returned as Madrid manager in March, it’s unlikely that Kovacic would want to go back to the Spanish capital, having struggled for playing time under the Frenchman.
The Croatian was keen to press his claim for first-choice status in the national team ahead of last summer’s World Cup, but found his route to more starts for his club side blocked by Madrid’s established midfield trio of compatriot Luka Modric, Casemiro, and Toni Kroos. Even after Zidane’s shock departure from the club last summer, Kovacic opted to leave in order to guarantee more regular starts.
Upon arriving in London last summer, the midfielder bid farewell to Madrid on Twitter, making it clear that he saw his future away from Spain.
But the transfer ban Chelsea are facing over alleged illegal signings of under-age players has muddied the waters, though the club has lodged an appeal. If that fails, the Blues will be banned from registering players for the next two transfer windows.
After three years filled with trophies I have decided to move on. Eventhough are paths now separate I want to say big thank you to @realmadrid family and all the fans for an amazing part of my life I will never forget. #HalaMadrid pic.twitter.com/vka7UUfsig— Mateo Kovačić (@Mateo_Kova23) August 10, 2018
Neymar admitted that he would like to play alongside Chelsea star Eden Hazard in the future. The ex-Barcelona player believes Hazard’s style is similar to his.
The fact that both players have been linked to a move to Real Madrid in the summer has further enhanced the significance of the Brazilian’s statement.
“Hazard,” the Brazilian responded to Fox Sports – as quoted by Marca – when asked if there was a player that he’d like to play alongside.
“He’s a player that I think is different and I he has a similar style to me.”
Often questioned about his move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar has reiterating the fact that he was on the look out for new challenges.
“It was about looking for something new, to find new difficulties,” he explained.
“Barcelona are a club that I’m in love with, even today.
“I still talk to my former teammates, but I felt at that time that I was looking for something more difficult.”
James Rodriguez is unlikely to stay at Bayern Munich once his two-year loan deal from Real Madrid expires at the end of this season, according to Marca – though a return to the Spanish capital has been complicated by the rehiring of Zinedine Zidane.
The Colombia playmaker hasn’t started any of Bayern’s last four games, ostensibly due to injury. He was taken off at half-time in his last appearance, the DFB-Pokal game against Heidenheim, because of a muscle injury and has made only two substitute appearances since.
His unwillingness to stay – James has reportedly told the Bayern board he wants to leave in the summer – is thought to be the reason manager Niko Kovac is reluctant to play him even when fit. The relationship between the pair has deteriorated in recent weeks, especially after the 27-year-old was dropped from the crucial fixture against Borussia Dortmund, which Bayern went onto win 5-0 to take control of the Bundesliga title race.
“We dropped James Rodriguez and Leon Goretzka against Dortmund for technical reasons,” Kovac said ahead of the DFB-Pokal semi-final Werder Bremen.
“This decision led to us winning 5-0, so you ask yourself, ‘why would I change anything?'”
Bayern would have to pay £42 million to make his transfer permanent, with club president Uli Hoeness having previously said he is unwilling to pay such a fee for a player who doesn’t start.
James is under contract at Madrid until 2020, but a lack of playing time under Zidane was one of the reasons he left Los Blancos in the first place. With the Frenchman having rejoined as manager this season, it’s unlikely the Colombian will return to the La Liga club.