Graphic: Real Madrid’s strongest XI including reported target Mateo Kovacic

Real Madrid Bernabeu

Real Madrid have been linked with a move for Mateo Kovacic of Inter Milan.

According to a report in Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport, Real Madrid have agreed a deal for Inter Milan’s exciting midfielder Mateo Kovacic.

Last season, the loss of Luka Modric to injury disrupted Madrid’s La Liga title push and a poor run of form ensued, including a two-legged Copa Del Rey loss to city-rivals Atletico Madrid.

The lack of competition was astounding, especially for such a key position as former boss Carlo Ancelotti had to shuffle his group with Sergio Ramos stepping up to cover for his absence.

Aside from their faltering domestic campaign, the Spanish giants were embarrassed by Schalke 04 at home in the Champions League and eventually knocked out at the semi-final stage by Juventus.

Kovacic would add a bit of everything to Madrid’s midfield – youthfulness, reliability in possession, creativity but above all that defensive protection which is evidently needed.

Toni Kroos, as good as he is on the ball, is rather suspect out of possession and his lack of speed to cover the ground is notable when facing the very best of oppositions.

Should Madrid complete a deal for Inter’s standout star, there is the suggestion that he could come in for Kroos in order to give Rafa Benitez’s side an all-Croatian midfield partnership.

Of course, the vast number of games and inevitable injuries and suspensions mean there will be plenty of changes to the starting XI throughout the season, with James Rodriguez and Isco sharing position.

However, for the very best games against the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Valencia, the graphic above could be Madrid’s best XI with Kovacic giving them that extra protection in midfield.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch