2. Mateo Kovacic is not being talked about enough
Mateo Kovacic—since Tuchel took over—has been Chelsea’s best player. Kovacic is one of the most underrated midfielders in the world. I’m going to say this next line with a lot of pride and confidence, knowing him from his Inter days: Kovacic is also one of the best midfielders in the world. There, it has been said, no taking back now.
Not that I need to take it back, anyway.
He has been phenomenal under Tuchel. The Croatian has been one of the first names on the team sheet, and he also has been one of the first names in my lessons learnt articles. This isn’t being biased, this is just the truth at this point. He was once again incredible against Atletico Madrid. Tuchel knew that his ball-carrying ability and passing in tight spaces would be crucial against the league leaders in Spain—that was the case. He was so press-resistant when he had the ball, and was just so smooth with it. Kovacic knew where all of his teammates were, so passing the ball to them wasn’t a problem at all. He had a team-high of 40 percent successful presses on 27 attempts, which is also his season-high.
Want to get the ball from the defense to the midfield and then progress it to the attack? Kovacic is your man. Want to break the opponent’s press with ease? Kovacic is your man. He is what this team needs, and he is the perfect player for Tuchel’s Chelsea.
Chelsea holding on to him after the loan deal expired was one of the better transfer decisions that its board has made in the last five years or so. Not that most of them have been bad—they haven’t—this was just a great, great decision. He is still only 26 years old and is in his prime. It’s going to be so interesting to watch him reach his peak because that is going to be the time he shows the world that he can do all of this and then some, day in and day out.