This article forms part of our Profit Players feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how well a player has fared since being signed or sold, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to prove how good of a deal the club managed to achieve.
During the 2013 January transfer window, Mateo Kovacic was the most expensive of the four players signed by Internazionale.
This is perhaps surprising as the others were joining from prestigious Serie A clubs, while Kovacic was being recruited from the relative obscurity of the Croatian First Football League, joining for a fee of £9.9m from Dinamo Zagreb, as per Transfermarkt.
To spend such a fee on a player who had never plied their trade outside of Croatia could have been considered a gamble at the time, though it certainly paid off for Inter.
During that first half-season in Milan, Kovacic started 11 Serie A games, coming on as a substitute twice, while he started 14 times and came off the bench on 18 occasions the following campaign, managing 5 assists throughout that time as per WhoScored.
It was the 2014/15 season that would see the Croatian step up in his role for the club, as he started 26 league games, coming on as a substitute in 9, going on to score 5 goals and 3 assists.
The Croatian’s overall game was also impressive, as he averaged 1.6 tackles, 1.8 key passes and 2.6 dribbles per game, while also completing 87.5% of his attempted passes.
It was form such as this that saw Real Madrid come in and sign the midfielder for £34.2m during the summer of 2015 – a deal that had shown his value to triple in just two-and-a-half years.
There is also an argument that they sold him at the best time, as in the four years following the sale of Kovacic, who is now 25 years old, his value has only risen by another £6.3m, judging by his transfer to Chelsea, while the money earned from that deal covered the signings of Ivan Perisic and Xherdan Shaqiri that same summer.
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