How Mateo Kovacic Improved Under Frank Lampard

Total Croatia News

November 16, 2019 – Chelsea has been doing well this season. They currently sit 3rd in the Premier League, a point ahead of the current champions, Manchester City, but eight behind the current leaders Liverpool. Many thought that with inexperienced Frank Lampard as the manager and a transfer ban, the Blues might collapse this season. However, they have proved their doubters wrong, so did Mateo Kovacic. 

The 25-year-old Croatian midfielder re-joined Chelsea last summer in a reported £45million deal after spending last season on loan at Stamford Bridge. Despite the transfer ban, many Chelsea fans didn’t welcome the news with excitement, but Kovacic massively improved his game under Lampard. 

Last season, everything was so predictable. Under Maurizio Sarri, either Kovacic or Ross Barkley would start the game and one would be replaced with another in the second half. Although the Croatian made 21 Premier League starts under the Italian, he completed 90 minutes just twice. Fast-forward to this season, Kovacic looks to be on the right track. In the same competition, he completed 90 minutes six times already and Barkley is nowhere to be seen. Both Kovacic and Jorginho have stepped up their game and the Chelsea fans enjoy their partnership, which wasn’t the case last season. 

The Croatian lacked the final product, producing just two assists from 25 chances created while he also failed to score under Sarri and Lampard so far, with his last goal for club or country coming in January 2017 for Real Madrid. Despite not scoring for almost three years, Lampard improved Kovacic’s game. 

“I’m looking forward to working with him a lot. He was an amazing player and he showed last season that he is a good coach as well,” the Croatian told Chelsea’s official website in July. 

“I’m looking forward to learning how to score from him because he scored quite a lot and me not so much last season! I’m maybe not exactly the same type of midfielder as he was, but he had some strong abilities, especially scoring goals. 

“He was a hard worker, so I’m looking forward to being better in this aspect, in working hard, fighting on the pitch and scoring goals.” 

It has to be said that N’Golo Kante’s injury helped pave the way for Kovacic’s frequent inclusion in the starting eleven and he has done more than anyone expected to fill in for the French midfielder. The 25-year-old has shown himself to have excellent defensive work-rate, running back into his area in Kante-like style, giving his all to help Chelsea’s back four. 

In 12 Premier League games so far this season, only Cesar Azpilicueta (28) and Jorginho (27) have made more tackles than Kovačić’s 25 though the Croatian’s have come at a better rate of 

2.82 per 90 minutes. The best evidence of Kovacic’s improvement is his display in 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace last weekend. Kovacic rivaled Christian Pulisic for the man-of-the-match award in Saturday’s game, and the likes of BBC even acknowledged his efforts on the pitch by announcing him as the man-of-the-match. He played more passes and recovered the ball on more occasions than anyone else on the pitch. 

His numbers this season testify to one of the broadest skillsets in the Premier League. The Croatian has completed the seventh-most dribbles and has the best dribble success rate of all players with 20 or more dribbles. He also ranks seventh for passes in the opposition half and has the fourth-best passing accuracy of all players with 350 or more opposition half passes. 

The Times even wrote the following after the game against Palace last weekend: “Kovacic is integral to the way Chelsea move the ball quickly from back to front and more often than not manage to bolt the door when they have to deal with an opposition counterattack.” 

If Kovacic improves his goalscoring record, only the sky will be his limit. On the other side, it will be interesting to see what Lampard will do once Kante is fit again, which he will be once the international break is over. With Mason Mount being outstanding as well, the English manager will have a lot to think about when they face the Premier League champions, Manchester City, next Saturday. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment