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    Man United, Tottenham & Juventus on alert as Mateo Kovacic confirms ‘it’s best if I change teams’

    Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic last night confirmed his intention to depart the European champions over the coming months.

    Stepping up

    Since his move to the Bernabeu from Inter Milan in the summer of 2015, Croatian international Kovacic has endured an up-and-down spell with Los Blancos, finding himself confined to the bench for much of his stint in the Spanish capital.

    However, following just 8 La Liga starts during his debut campaign with the club, the 24-year-old went on to solidify himself as an important member of Zinedine Zidane’s squad during the 2016/17 campaign, starting 19 league outings for the eventual Spanish champions.

    A number of increasingly impressive displays were backed up by a sensational pre-season for Kovacic, with the classy midfielder having started and starred in Real’s ‘friendly’ victory over fierce rivals Barcelona in Miami, as well as both of their Spanish Super Cup wins over the Blaugrana.

    ‘Not for sale’

    However, with Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro already to contend with at the Bernabeu, and Real having beaten a host of top clubs to the signing of Spanish midfield prodigy Dani Ceballos last summer, several European giants were subsequently linked with moves for Kovacic.

    In the end, the gifted Croat stayed put, though, with Real director Jose Angel Sanchez having had the following to say regarding Kovacic’s future in the Spanish capital:

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

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

    Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Kovacic - FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

    BARCELONA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 03: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona fights for the ball with Mateo Kovacic of Real Madrid CF during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at Camp Nou stadium on December 3, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

    ‘Time for me to play’

    But, after the Dinamo Zagreb youth product managed just 10 La Liga starts this past season, rumours have once again been rife in the media that Kovacic could be on the move over the coming months.

    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.’

    ‘Best if I go to another club’

    And, speaking in a further interview regarding his future with Spanish outlet Marca last night, Kovacic confirmed once and for all his intention to depart the Bernabeu this summer, no doubt putting the likes of Manchester United, Juventus and Tottenham 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 is currently away on international duty with Croatia at the World Cup, but has failed to start either of his country’s first 2 group games, with the gifted midfielder having also pinned his struggles at international level on his lack of game-time with Real:

    ‘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…’

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