Maurizio Sarri has praised Mateo Kovacic’s debut appearance for Chelsea in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Arsenal and believes the Croatian can have a big impact at the club.
Kovacic, who arrived from Real Madrid on a season-long loan, came off the bench on the hour mark with the scores tied and helped the hosts seize complete control before Marcos Alonso netted the decisive goal late on.
The 24-year-old completed 100% of his 43 attempted passes against Arsenal during his half-hour on the pitch, much to the delight of his manager.
‘I am really very happy,’ Sarri told ChelseaTV when asked about Kovacic. ‘But in my opinion in this moment Kovacic, and Hazard, are not able to play for 90 minutes.
‘So I thought that it was better 25-30 minutes when the intensity of the game is going down, and Hazard has done two assists in two matches. So I am very happy, also because I think that Kovacic can improve a lot here.’
Kovacic left the Bernabeu to get more game time, having become frustrated with his bit-part role at Real, and he was pleased with how his debut went.
He told Sport Klub after the game: ‘First of all I’m happy about the win and that’s the most important thing, it’s good that the team is playing well so it’s easy to adapt.
‘But I’m still out of rhythm since I’ve just joined the squad, but I’m working well and I’m improving and that’s what matters.’
On his first taste of the Premier League, he added: ‘Well, the tempo is higher, there is more space, but as I said it’s not hard to adapt when you are surrounded by great players. I would thank to all fans that support me and I will make sure I payback on the pitch.’