Ten Hag wants to sign the player who rejected Mourinho when he was at Man United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Jose Mourinho after the match.

Manchester United were interested in Mateo Kovacic during Jose Mourinho’s time at the club REUTERS/Carl Recine.

Chelsea’s impending rebuild under a new manager could see several high-profile stars depart Stamford Bridge, with the London outfit under pressure to trim their bloated squad after two transfer windows of exuberant spending.

Mateo Kovacic’s future at Chelsea is in doubt, as the Croatian midfielder is heading into the final 12 months of his contract. The Blues don’t want to lose the 29-year-old for nothing in the summer of 2024. As per the Guardian, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, and Manchester United are monitoring the situation.

United, in particular, are keen on adding greater physicality in the middle of the park and are expected to compete for Kovacic’s signature.

The Red Devils were interested in the Croatian before he left Real Madrid for Chelsea in 2018. As per Spanish outlet MARCA, United ‘knocked on’ Los Blancos’ door for the player. However, Kovacic had concerns that the side’s style didn’t suit him. Jose Mourinho was the man in charge at Old Trafford at the time. Talks didn’t progress beyond that stage, and he eventually ended up at Chelsea.

United have rekindled their interest in the midfielder, who is capable of solving a number of midfield issues preventing Erik ten Hag from implementing his preferred style of play.

ALSO READ: Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel interested in signing Manchester United star

The former Ajax man prefers to control possession and build from the back. The failure to sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona last summer led to the arrival of Casemiro. The Brazilian’s lack of press resistance regularly forces United centre-backs to play the ball out wide to full-backs. Christian Eriksen is the only reliable outlet through the middle at Old Trafford at the moment.

Not only is Kovacic a more physically dominant and athletic midfielder than Eriksen, but he’s also excellent at carrying the ball forward from the back.