Kovacic is the Casemiro alternative Zidane was looking for all along

Continuity was the cry. As far as Zinedine Zidane was concerned, he could have happily approached the new season with the same squad as the last. He was more right than he realised.

One of the few areas that Real Madrid had marked for improvement was the defensive midfield spot. Casemiro had no back-up, was the consensus . A solution was quick and easy, as Marcos Llorente was returned from a strong loan spell at Alaves.

It has already proved to be a solution that was too simplistic to be true.

Because, at Los Blancos, the squad is so packed with talent that there is always one other ready to spark up and provide a selection headache for the coach.

This time, that man is Mateo Kovacic.

Picked alongside the Brazilian in the Supercopa de Espana first leg, Kovacic was then given the anchor man role in the return match and emerged with a clean sheet to his name, albeit due to some scruffy Barcelona finishing.

In one respect, the Croatian has the work rate and style of his compatriot Luka Modric, the man with which comparisons are most often made, however he has the additional physicality needed to battle for the ball in defensive areas.

With a growing repertoire of big match performances under his belt, Kovacic is clearly earning his boss’ trust and, of course, the reality is that he’ll be required more in LaLiga cruises past Leganes and Levante than the big European nights featuring the likes of Liverpool and Leipzig.

And that would suit the former Inter man just fine, as his forward venturing abilities is less likely to be exposed by the lesser sides.

The man left out in this equation is Llorente. Yet to get a sniff at the first-team, the La Fabrica product must be patient just as Kovacic has been and be prepared for a season or two on the fringes.

Luckily for Llorente, he’s Spanish, and that may be a key factor in being fast tracked towards the team.

Although, if that’s at the expense of the newfound alternative to Casemiro, one would have to wonder if Real Madrid would be better off not rocking the boat.

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