The Croatia international struggled for game time at the Santiago Bernabeu in his first season after arriving from Inter Milan, the presence of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Casemiro, James Rodriguez and Isco (below) limiting him to just eight La Liga starts.
The 22-year-old (below) prefers to play at a high tempo and therefore struggled at times to adapt to the methodical pace of the Spanish game.
However, despite interest from Everton, West Ham, Liverpool and Roma, Marca are reporting that the Champions League winners have refused to sanction the sale of a player they believe will develop into one of Europe’s best midfielders.
Kovacic has yet to nail down a specific position at Real, having been deployed as a deep-lying playmaker, inverted winger and an orthodox number 10 while at Inter.
However, his energetic fluidity and aggressive attacking would have made him an exciting proposition for Jurgen Klopp and Ronald Koeman (below), both of whom favour a full-blooded, high-tempo approach.