Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic is the latest to emerge on the radar of Manchester United, who are seeking a long-term replacement for Michael Carrick.

According to Spanish publication Don Balon, Manchester United have identified Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic as a target to bolster their midfield. Jose Mourinho has been seeking a replacement for Michael Carrick, who seems set to hang up his playing boots and join the coaching staff at the end of the season. And, the Real Madrid man seems to be the answer, judging by the reports.

There have been several Real Madrid players linked with Manchester United in the January transfer window so far, with the likes of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo rumoured to be seeking a return to the Premier League. But, Kovacic is reportedly Jose Mourinho’s main target at Real Madrid.

Manchester United does have a dire need of reinforcement in the middle of the park. With the arrival of Alexis Sanchez, Jose Mourinho could be looking to shift to a 4-3-3 formation. But, while they do have a number of midfielders to choose from, no one can take the field to support Matic and Pogba in a 3-man midfield like Carrick.

Jose Mourinho confirmed that the midfielder will be bidding adieu to his playing career by the end of the season and will be joining the coaching staff. Even without the veteran hanging up his boots, he has not taken the field in quite a while, which has seen United’s playing style wither a little bit.

An infusion of creativity is needed and perhaps that is where Mateo Kovacic comes in. The Croatian is already habituated with playing in a midfield three at Real Madrid and would be an ideal target. Also, in the midfield, Matic and Kovacic could form the base, with Pogba being afforded more space and freedom.

Mateo Kovacic is also a more approachable target for Manchester United, with other targets no more accessible. Sergi Roberto has extended his contract at Barcelona while Jean-Michael Seri is being targeted by other top clubs as well.

There has been rumours of Tottenham being interested in the Croatian. But, Kovacic could opt for Manchester United over Pochettino’s men, with the club having a better shot at silverware while also being one of the most iconic clubs in the world.

Manchester United’s pull, be it the money, the heritage or the re-established hunger for success, has become evident in the last couple of windows. And, with Mateo Kovacic not really having the best of times at Real Madrid – the midfielder has played just 169 minutes of La Liga football this season – he will likely be open to a move in order to secure more minutes and impress his way to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

This looks like a deal that could go through. But, the window – January or the summer – depends on the urgency Manchester United are able to show in the market.

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