Man Utd eye Man City & Liverpool target Mateo Kovacic as Frenkie de Jong alternative

Mateo Kovacic is out of contract in 2024
Mateo Kovacic is out of contract in 2024 / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Manchester United have joined Premier League rivals Manchester City and Liverpool in exploring the potential signing of Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic, 90min has learned.

All three clubs are looking to upgrade their midfield options going into next season and see an opportunity to sign the Croatian midfielder, who turns 29 in May, from the west London club.

Kovacic is set to enter the final year of his contract and while Chelsea are keen for the player to stay, extension talks have not yet progressed beyond initial stages. It's understood Kovacic and his representatives are weighing up options at present, with the possibility of staying in England now on the table even in the event of a departure from Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea are looking to address the balance of their squad this summer by offloading a number of players, after making 17 signings over the past year since a change in ownership. The Blues have also undergone massive organisational changes off the pitch, and are also introducing new practices with their decisions on contracts for new and current players.

A noticeable trend has been particularly long deals for new signings such as Mykhailo Mudryk and Enzo Fernandez, while Reece James signed a new six-year deal in September 2022.

But Chelsea are also looking to ensure no player leaves on a free transfer in future seasons, as reported by 90min earlier this month, and that may inevitably mean some first team players are sold if new contract agreements are not reached. Chelsea's ownership want to avoid players entering the final two years of their deals in an ideal scenario.

Mason Mount is perhaps the most high profile player out of contract in 2024 at risk of being sold, though Kovacic is in a similar position. Chelsea's domestic rivals have taken encouragement that deals to take players from Chelsea can be reached in line with the Blues' new policies, with Jorginho's sale to Arsenal acting as recent proof that there is a willingness for such deals on Chelsea's side.



Chelsea's ideal scenario is for Kovacic to extend on their terms, but the prospect remains that if no agreement is reached that rival clubs may be able to pick up Kovacic for a fair market price.

Kovacic, who joined Chelsea on an initial loan in 2018 before being signed on a permanent deal, wore the captain's armband during the recent home draw with Everton, and is regarded as a consummate professional - even by rival managers Erik ten Hag, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.

United are in the market to sign a ball-playing number eight before next season and regard this position as well as centre forward their top market priorities.

Frenkie de Jong has been the very public top target for United since Ten Hag's arrival, and 90min understands interest remains despite the player's recent public statements - though they are exploring other options in the position. Kovacic is understood to fit the profile and is of active interest to United.

Scott McTominay, as 90min reported on March 4 and during the January transfer window, is wanted by a number of Premier League clubs including Newcastle, and the club are prepared to sell for the right price as Ten Hag's squad evolution enters its second summer. United are seeking in the region of £25m to £30m for the Scottish international, who now stands a better chance of regular first team football with another club.

City, meanwhile, know of Bernardo Silva's desire for a new challenge at the end of the season, and are also at risk of losing Ilkay Gundogan on a free transfer. They alongside Liverpool are strongly interested in bringing Jude Bellingham to the Premier League, though other signings could also be made given the potential for midfield departures at both clubs.


On this edition of The Promised Land, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders and Rob Blanchette discuss Man Utd's potential alternatives to the signing of Frenkie de Jong.

If you can't see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!