Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic last night confirmed his intention to depart the European Champions.

Since joining Real Madrid from Inter Milan in 2015, Croatia international Kovacic has had a mixed spell with Los Blancos, finding himself confined to the bench for much of his stint in the Spanish capital.

Following just eight La Liga starts during his debut campaign with the club, the 24-year-old went on to become a more important member of Zinedine Zidane’s squad during the 2016/17 campaign, starting 19 games in the league for the eventual Spanish champions.

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However, Kovacic has to compete for a place in the Madrid side with players like Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro. That would immediately suggest to me that he would be better playing elsewhere, especially to further his career and develop as a player. 

Despite links with an exit last summer, Kovacic stayed put which lead to Madrid’s director Jose Angel Sanchez saying the following, as per 101 Great Goals: 

“Kovacic is not for sale, we will never sell him.

“He is one of the players the club’s future relies on.”

Kovacic managed just 10 La Liga starts this past season and rumours have been rife again that the Dinamo Zagreb youth product may well be on the move this summer.

Speaking in an interview with FourFourTwo earlier this month, the 43-time capped international admitted that the possibility of seeking pastures new this summer in search of more regular playing time was an option which he was taking into serious consideration:

“I believe I’ll play more, whether in Real or somewhere else.

“Now is the time for me to play.

“Offers? I am under contract with Real and I wish not to comment on other clubs.”

If that’s not a come and get me plea, I don’t know what it is…

He gave a further interview regarding his future with Spanish newspaper Marca, published last night. Kovacic’s comments will put the likes of Manchester United, Juventus, Liverpool and Spurs on red alert:

“I’d like to play more for Madrid because I love football and being on the pitch.

“I also know that it’s difficult to play as a starter at Madrid, especially because I was very young when I came here.

“I understand the situation, and that’s why I think it’s best if I go to another club, where I have the opportunity to play regularly as a starter.

“It’s an opportunity I think I can get and one I want right now. Every player is important at Real Madrid.

“However, the problem is that for a young player, it’s difficult to have continuity, and without that continuity, I’ll never be able to show my full potential.

“When I don’t have clarity, I’m not happy. I’ve really enjoyed these three years at Madrid with incredible teammates, winning trophies…

“I haven’t been entirely happy because my contribution to all that wasn’t to the maximum and it’s something I want to change.

“I don’t know the new Coach and I’ve never spoken to him, but I know we need to talk about my future.”

Kovacic has not started in Croatia first two games at the World Cup, but it’s difficult for any manager to select a player who isn’t playing much for his club.

“I’ve been at Madrid for three years, I haven’t played too much and it’s something that has affected my status in the national team.

“It’s something that doesn’t make me happy. That’s why it’s best if I change teams. Real Madrid are an extraordinary team full of great players and maybe now I’m too young to contribute fully here. I don’t know…”