Chelsea grant Man City permission to speak to Mateo Kovacic as the two clubs discuss a fee for the Croatian – who wants to link up with Pep Guardiola ahead of Mauricio Pochettino’s big summer clearance
- Mateo Kovacic set to leave Chelsea with several clubs now interested
- Manchester City have been given permission to speak with the midfielder
- Kovacic is eager to sign for the recently crowned Premier League champions
Manchester City have stepped up their bid to sign Mateo Kovacic from Chelsea after opening talks with the midfielder.
A fee has yet to be agreed, but Chelsea have cleared the 29-year-old to speak to the Premier League champions as they begin to clear their bloated squad ahead of Mauricio Pochettino’s official start date of July 1.
Mail Sport reported last month how Kovacic has become a top target for Pep Guardiola and City are monitoring developments with the Croatia international.
Bayern Munich had shown half-hearted interest while they are also on Manchester United’s radar. However, he wants to link up with Guardiola and a deal is expected to be agreed.
After Jude Bellingham indicated his preference to join Real Madrid, City explored midfield options. They have also offered captain Ilkay Gundogan a new contract, but know he also has offers from Barcelona and Arsenal to consider.
Manchester City have been cleared by Chelsea to speak with Mateo Kovacic
Pep Guardiola is set to add to his squad this summer and Kovacic remains on his radar
It is understood Kovacic (right) would be interested in joining the Premier League champions
City have maintained a surveillance warrant over Kovacic, who is admired by Guardiola.
Just two games away from securing a remarkable treble, City will provide an update on their squad over the coming days and weeks, with several departures expected.
But they will spend once again to bolster their crop and Kovacic, named as one of Chelsea’s main candidates for exit under Pochettino, is likely to join.
Kovacic still has a year to run on his contract. He has made 221 appearances in all competitions since arriving, initially on loan, from Real Madrid in 2018.
The move was made permanent a year later for a fee of around £45million.
Mauricio Pochettino has been officially unveiled as Chelsea boss and will allow departures
Kovacic, who joined permanently for around £45m in 2019, has one year left on his contract
During his sparkling five years in west London, Kovacic won the Champions League, Europa League, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup.
Guardiola, meanwhile, would also like to add Kovacic’s international teammate Red Bull Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol to his defence.
Joao Felix has become the first casualty of Chelsea’s release after it was confirmed he would return to Atletico Madrid, and the showdown could stretch into double digits.
The club are prioritizing reducing the size of their first-team squad this summer, with Graham Potter and Frank Lampard both loading over 30 players.
10+ players can make way for reduced numbers for Pochettino.
Portugal star Joao Felix (left) will return to Atletico Madrid after a six-month loan spell at Stamford Bridge, with new boss Pochettino (right) not interested in making the loan permanent
It is understood that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hakim Ziyech, Christian Pulisic, Edouard Mendy and Callum Hudson-Odoi are set to move on.
The future of Kalidou Koulibaly, N’Golo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta is unclear.
Elsewhere, Denis Zakaria will return to Juventus after his season-long loan, while there is interest in Conor Gallagher, Trevoh Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Mason Mount is coveted by United, but Pochettino is keen to work with him.