Kai Havertz hailed his relationship with midfield maestro Mateo Kovacic and how much he influences the Chelsea team.
Speaking to the club website, Havertz had nothing but kind words to say about Kovacic when asked to name the unsung heroes of the Blues ensemble.
Typically, the Croatian isn’t the first that comes to mind when Chelsea crops up in conversation.
Such is the talent and depth of Thomas Tuchel’s squad, you could reel off a list of international stars before reaching the 27-year-old.
But winning the club’s 2019/20 Player of the Season is no fluke.
Kovacic has grown in strength and stature since he arrived at Stamford Bridge from Real Madrid, initially on loan, three years ago.
He quickly asserted himself as one of the key midfield patrollers, combining elegancy in possession with a doggedness off it.
Kova the carer
Chelsea have a much younger look to their makeup than days gone by, meaning Kovacic is now one of the senior members of the dressing room.
His role is to nurture the less experienced players, aided by the fact he can speak a multitude of languages.
One of those he’s clearly taken under his wing is Havertz, who was grateful to have the former Madrid man by his side.
“To be honest, there is a lot of players that have helped me a lot,” said the German.
“I think one of them for me for example was Kova.
“I had a very good relationship with him from day one. He’s a different character in playing football but I think we share the same understanding of football.
“He is like a hero because he always wants the ball.
“Even when we concede the ball, he’s always the first one to take the ball and in doing that, I think he gives us a lot of confidence.
“He’s a player who always likes a lot of movement.
“He’s very quick on the ball. Very good for a team like us because we like to play very fast football.
“Just very good to have someone like him here at Chelsea.”
Making of Mateo
Supporters have truly begun to appreciate Kovacic’s quality in the past 12 months so.
Under Maurizio Sarri, and to an extent Frank Lampard, the Croat couldn’t quite express himself to his full potential.
Tuchel has allowed his quality to flourish, thanks to the change in formation that places more emphasis on the two central midfielders.
Some shy away from responsibility; others sprint towards it. Kovacic is certainly part of the latter bracket.