Man City are granted permission to speak to Mateo Kovacic by Chelsea as Mauricio Pochettino’s big summer clearout continues… with Croatian star keen on Etihad move
- Mateo Kovacic is expected to leave Chelsea, with several clubs now interested
- Manchester City have been given permission to hold talks with the midfielder
- Kovacic is eager to sign for the recently-crowned Premier League champions
Manchester City have stepped up their bid to sign Mateo Kovacic from Chelsea after opening talks with the midfielder.
A fee is still to be agreed but Chelsea have given permission for the 29-year old to speak to the Premier League champions as they begin to clear their bloated squad in preparation for Mauricio Pochettino’s official start date on July 1.
Mail Sport reported last month how Kovacic had emerged as a prime target for Pep Guardiola and that City were watching developments with the Croatia international.
Bayern Munich had shown tentative interest while he is also on Manchester United’s radar. However, he is keen to link up with Guardiola and a deal is expected to be struck.
After Jude Bellingham indicated a preference to join Real Madrid, City have been exploring midfield options. They have also offered a new contract to captain Ilkay Gundogan but know he has offers from Barcelona and Arsenal to consider too.
Manchester City have been granted permission by Chelsea to speak with Mateo Kovacic
Pep Guardiola is open to adding to his squad this summer and Kovacic remains on his radar
It is understood Kovacic (right) would be interested in joining the Premier League champions
City have maintained a watching brief on Kovacic, who is admired by Guardiola.
Just two games away from securing a remarkable treble, City will take stock of their squad over the coming days and weeks, with several outgoings expected.
But they will once again spend to strengthen their crop and Kovacic, named as one of the prime candidates to exit Chelsea under Pochettino, is likely to join.
Kovacic has one more year left to run on his deal. He has made 221 appearances in across all competitions since joining, initially on loan, from Real Madrid in 2018.
The move was made permanent a year later for a fee of around £45million.
Over his glittering five-year spell in west London, Kovacic has won the Champions League, Europa League, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup.
Guardiola, meanwhile, would also like to add Red Bull Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol, an international teammate of Kovacic, to his defence.
Mauricio Pochettino has officially been unveiled as Chelsea boss and will permit departures
Kovacic, who joined permanently for around £45million in 2019, has one year left on his deal
Joao Felix became the first casualty of the Chelsea clear-out after it was confirmed he would return to Atletico Madrid, and the culling may stretch into double figures.
The club are prioritising reducing the size of their first-team group this summer, with Graham Potter and Frank Lampard both having burdened with over 30 players.
Over 10 players may make way to trim down the numbers for Pochettino.
It is understood that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Edouard Mendy and Callum Hudson-Odoi are set to be moved on.
The futures of Kalidou Koulibaly, N’Golo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta are unclear.
Elsewhere, Denis Zakaria will return to Juventus after his season-long loan stint, while there is interest in Conor Gallagher, Trevoh Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Mason Mount is coveted by United, but Pochettino is keen to work with him.
Portuguese star Joao Felix (left) will return to Atletico Madrid after a six-month loan at Stamford Bridge, with new boss Pochettino (right) not interested in making loan permanent