Liverpool target Mateo Kovacic vows to become Inter Milan's Andrea Pirlo
Mateo Kovacic has vowed to win over his critics at Inter Milan and become the club's Andrea Pirlo as he continues to be linked with a move to Liverpool.
Kovacic told La Gazzetta dello Sport that he plans to become Inter's answer to Pirlo or Luca Modric, rather than be regarded as a player who never delivered on his full potential.
The 21-year-old has struggled with a lack of consistency at Inter since signing from Dinamo Zagreb in January 2013 as initial rave reviews turned to damning assessments -- and he hopes to transform opinions again. He has made 80 Serie A appearances for the the Serie A giants, with 51 of those as a starter.
"People should expect the same from me as they expect from everybody else," Kovacic said. "Maybe they mean I need to be performing with more consistency, but that's not easy when you're not playing every game.
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"Playing every game helps you find intensity and consistency in your game. It's something you've got to earn, but playing a lot helps you a lot."
The Croatia international hopes that will happen this season with Inter coach Roberto Mancini suggesting he plans to use Kovacic in a deeper midfield position. "Like Pirlo -- a great player," Kovacic added. "But also like Modric, who is another of my idols.
"I like playing there, right at the heart of the action. It's where I get a lot of the ball. I played there for Dinamo Zagreb, and also under [Andrea] Stramaccioni, when I played quite a few good games. The fans were enjoying themselves and so was I. I believe my future is in that position."
Sources told ESPN FC in May that Liverpool had lodged a £10 million offer for Kovacic, but he doesn't see himself leaving the club after signing a new contract at the San Siro in January.
"I'm staying here," he added. "I'm not moving anywhere. This is what I was looking for, and renewing my contract until 2019 says it all. My relationship with Inter is going to be a long one."
He was asked if that would be the case even if Liverpool were to offer €30 million. "What do I know?" Kovacic said. "I would have to ask my club, but they have never told me that they would like me to leave. Never.
"I don't know if there have been any offers from the Reds, but it's not for me to say -- it would be my agent. Having said this, all I can do is repeat that I want to stay here.
"I'm obsessed about proving that I am worthy of Inter. I want to win with this club. Inter are like Real Madrid or Barcelona."