Combative Croatian emerges as Mourinho’s No 1 midfield target

Mateo Kovacic: Linked with move away this summer.

Jose Mourinho is reported to have identified Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic as his number one midfield target this summer.

The United boss is on the hunt for a new central midfield presence to step into Michael Carrick’s boots and efforts to prise Sergej Milinkovic-Savic have proved problematic with Lazio sticking to their huge valuation and the Serbian strongly hinting he fancies a move elsewhere.

Mourinho is also thought to be keen on a deal for Toni Kroos, with reports on Sunday suggesting he would be willing to spend up to £70m to sign the Germany star. However, Kroos is considered one of the European champions’ untouchables and any deal for the former Bayern star appears unlikely.

However, the Daily Mail reckons Mourinho might just have more joy if he makes an approach for Kovacic, who has proved little more than a benchwarmer during his time at the Bernabeu.

The 24-year-old has made over 100 appearances for the club since arriving from Inter Milan in 2015, but many of those have come off the subs bench and the player has suggested recently he is willing to move on.

The player has a £265m exit clause in his Bernabeu contract, and United hope they can convince Real to sell for around £65million – with Manchester City also rumoured to be plotting an approach.

Mourinho has already recruited Fred for his midfield this summer, but replacing Carrick’s influence in the middle of the park still remains a priority.

United could fund a move for Kovacic by cashing in on Anthony Martial, with club officials reportedly set to meet with Juventus to discuss his possible sale in the coming days.


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