Kovacic: “I’m young but I want to grow, learn and improve with Inter”

APPIANO GENTILE – After his excellent performance against Sampdoria, Mateo Kovacic spoke to Sky Sport 24 about how he’s adapting to life with the Nerazzurri: “I’m happy, I’ve come to Inter, a big club, I’m young and still have a lot to learn. What am I like in my private life? I like staying in or going out for dinner with friends. I don’t like going crazy, I’m a quiet guy, I’m happy staying at home and watching a film with friends. I like it here, Italian football’s very difficult, there’s not a lot of space like in England or Spain but you learn different things like how to defend and tactics, which are very important. I’ve not scored yet but I’ve got time on my side.”

And his first goal with Inter could come against Parma: “Let’s hope so, I say that in every interview but the goal never comes! What am I missing? I think I just need to be a bit craftier, I see my team-mates but I still don’t see enough goalscoring positions, but I talk to the coach and experienced players to improve on that. Do I work on finishing? Yes, I work on everything, including when we’re defending and where to be on the pitch when the ball’s on the right and left.”

He also discussed his relationship with Walter Mazzarri, a rapport which is improving just like Mateo himself: “We’ve spoken ever since he came in, both when I’m in the team and out of it. He knows I’m good on the ball, but that I need to figure out how to move off it. We talk a lot, about our private lives too. I’m happy he’s here and that I can learn more. What does he tell me? To stay calm, especially recently when I’ve not been playing much, and to train well. I played against Samp, I did alright, and I’ll keep going like that.”

Kovacic then explained whether he’s ever pondered looking to get experience elsewhere: “This is a process, I’ve spoken to more experienced players and they told me it’s normal. It’s normal I was angry when I wasn’t playing, that’s normal for any player who’s out of the team but it was positive anger. Was the Juventus game the catalyst for trying to improve? The first goal was my fault, I didn’t track Lichtsteiner. I’ve watched that game back many times and I think I did everything well with the ball, but it didn’t go that well defensively.” Does he have what it takes to become a leading player at Inter? “Let’s hope so. I think Italian football is very difficult because you can’t turn, you don’t have space. I’m still young, I’ve got lots to learn but, yes, I want to become a leader for Inter.”

He also spoke about how important playing at the World Cup with the national team will be in terms of his personal development: “It’s big for us because we’re a small country, we’ve got a lot of talented players, but we have to do well at the World Cup and I can only learn from this experience. How far away are we from seeing Kovacic at 100%? I don’t like talking about myself too much, I just want to play, feel good and play well. I’m not even 20 yet, you can be a good player when you’re 22.

“In terms of my team-mates I watch and learn from Zanetti, who’s very experienced, from Cuchu who’s very good defensively, I watch everyone even Diego who always scores goals and Rodrigo. Am I learning Italian with them too? Handanovic helps me a lot, I get on really well with him. It was he who told me the nicest thing since I joined, which is that sometimes there are ups and downs, but that’s life and football. Samir is a top professional and you can learn a lot from him. Will I come to the fore at this club over the coming years? I’m not thinking too much about the next few years, I take things one day at a time.”