Hey there, Lilywhites! It's time for another edition of Daniel Levy's Imaginary Shortlist, where we preview some of the players that our dear chairman might be looking at as he seeks to strengthen his side in the January transfer window.
In this edition, we look at the young Croatian playmaker Mateo Kovačić.
Name: Mateo Kovačić
Team: GNK Dinamo Zagreb
League: MAXtv PRVA Liga
Primary position: Central Midfielder
Can also play: Left Attacking Midfielder, Defensive Midfielder
So let's see. We have a young Croatian central midfielder with great feet and tons of potential, currently plying his trade at Croat football powerhouse Dinamo Zagreb. Where have we heard this before? Hmmmmmmm...
Mateo Kovačić is one for the future. Only 18 years old, he's just now starting to get significant games in the Croatian league for Dinamo. He's not exactly tearing it up in Zagreb this season, but he has bagged himself a goal in nine appearances and is now a mainstay for the Croatian U21 team. And he's perhaps most known for scoring a goal in Champions League play last season vs. Olympique Lyonnais, making him the second youngest goal scorer in the history of the CL. It's no wonder that people have already compared him to the other outstanding midfielder to come out of Dinamo in recent years, Luka Modrić. (He's even been dubbed the "Croatian Messi," which is weird since they don't even play the same position.)
Football scouts with an eye for future talent absolutely love him. And if you play Football Manager (and we all do at CFC), Mateo Kovačić is definitely a diamond in the rough. He's got some great technical skills and is a fantastic dribbler, as indicated in the video below.
The knock on Kovačić is that, for as outstanding as he is with the ball at his feet, his passing and vision are not quite up to par yet, and his development has stuttered a bit in the past year or so. He needs some time, but he's got bags of ability, and loves to have the ball at his feet. With the right development he could thrive in the EPL as a deep-lying playmaker or a box-to-box midfielder.
Likely price: €6-10m (Transfermarkt value: €3; reports have him valued at up to €18m)
Probability that valuation is wrong: Yeah, he won't probably go for €18m, but if he goes it'll be more than €3.
Team's willingness to sell: Although Dinamo is a Champions League regular, they're also a selling club. If they get a good price for Kovačić, he'll be gone.
Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: One for the future, but it looks like he could have quite a future.
Possibility he ends up at Spurs: Unlikely. Spurs haven't shown any more than initial #batcountry signs that they're watching him, and he'd be well down the depth chart initially if he comes. He'd be a mainstay in the development team with a chance to work his way up (a la Jake Livermore). In a few years, though, this kid's got a chance to be pretty good for someone. I say he's worth a flyer.
Grade if this transfer goes through at likely price: B. Spendy at €18m, a steal at anything less than €6m.