Mateo Kovacic is “different class”, according to Joe Cole, and is a better all-round midfield option for Chelsea than Cesc Fabregas.
The Blues moved to bolster their options in the engine room over the summer when completing two high-profile deals.
Italy international Jorginho was acquired to complement N’Golo Kante in a holding role, while the energy of Croatia international Kovacic was lured away from Real Madrid on a season-long loan.
The 24-year-old has slotted seamlessly into the fold at Stamford Bridge, sparking talk of a potential permanent deal being struck, and is considered to offer more than a World Cup-winning team-mate.
Former Chelsea star Cole told BT Sport of a player who is capable of making an impact both defensively and offensively: “I think he’s different class.
“We know he isn’t a prolific goalscorer from midfield but when you watch him closely what he does is he drives with the ball.
“Straight away that’s unnerving the [opposition] back four because he’s got that ability to just ghost past players.
“Cesc Fabregas is a great player but what he gives Chelsea on top of what Cesc can’t do is he can drive and take players out of the game from a central midfield position.
“It allows space then for the Willians, the Eden Hazards and the Pedros to receive the ball.
“I think he’s vital for the way Chelsea want to play.
“He would like to score more goals from midfield I’m sure.
“He’ll be one of those players I think when he’s not there, that’s when you’re going to notice him.
“He drives and links the play from the defence to the attack so well.”
Kovacic has taken in 14 appearances for Chelsea so far, helping them to make an unbeaten start to the 2018-19 campaign across Premier League, Carabao Cup and Europa League competition.
He is still looking for his first goal, but has never been prolific in that department and has just 21 club efforts to his name across close to 300 outings for Dinamo Zagreb, Inter, Real Madrid and Chelsea.