Mateo Kovacic believes the progress made this season at Stamford Bridge is justification for the work put in by Frank Lampard and his players and indicates an exciting future ahead, though he insists only trophies will be the true barometer of success at a club like Chelsea.
That is why tomorrow’s Heads Up FA Cup final represents such an important opportunity for the Croatian to add domestic silverware to the Europa League title he won while on loan from Real Madrid last term.
‘It’s heading somewhere but we need to show it on the pitch in the end,’ Kovacic says about the foundations that have been laid over the past 12 months in west London.
‘We need to win titles because if you don’t win titles then it’s not so good. Chelsea are doing great things, making great signings and showing great faith in our coach, which is really important for him and for us as well.’
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Kovacic is no stranger to being among the end-of-season honours, having won eight major trophies in the Spanish capital and five more back in his homeland with Dinamo Zagreb. The 26-year-old relishes performing on the big stage and is eager to return to Wembley to add another medal to his growing personal collection.
‘It will be really nice to be in another final,’ he continues. ‘The most beautiful thing in football is to play finals and then to win them.
‘Chelsea is used to winning titles so we will do everything we can to play a good match in the FA Cup final and then let’s see what happens.’
Only five outfielders have played more Premier League minutes than Kovacic this season, highlighting his importance to the team in midfield, where he has been a key cog in harnessing the progressive football at the heart of Lampard’s style of play.
While he admits he wants to add more goals and assists to his game, our number 17 has been pleased with his contribution in SW6 in his first campaign as a permanent Chelsea player.
‘I’m happy with my performances,’ he adds. ‘I think I’ve had a good season and I’ve settled well in my second year. Obviously I’m missing the statistics, which is the thing lacking in my game at the moment, but I’m improving on that as well.
‘I feel great here, so happy and honoured to be at this great club. Now I need to pay it back on the pitch, to be better and better every season, and hopefully next season is even better for us than this one.’
The more immediate focus is on Arsenal, the same opponents we defeated in Baku last May to claim silverware. Kovacic will be hoping for more of the same on the north side of the capital tomorrow evening as the Blues look to end this drawn-out campaign with Cup glory.
-Begin your build-up to the game with our Cup final pre-match briefing