Slaven Bilic explained that Croatian fans are desperate for Mateo Kovacic to replicate his Chelsea levels at the European Championships.
Writing for the Telegraph, Bilic admitted that he had been let down by Kovacic’s display for his national team.
The 27-year-old arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2018 on loan on Real Madrid before signing permanently the following campaign.
He was voted Chelsea’s Player of the Season in 2019/20, which was topped by winning the Champions League last month.
Add to that a Europa League gold medal, and Kovacic’s career with the Blues has been a positive one.
Kova’s Croatia troubles
For Croatia, his success is yet to reach similar heights.
His senior debut arrived in 2013 and he currently has accumulated 67 caps.
At the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, his minutes were minor and he hardly kicked a ball at Euro 2016.
Bilic wants more from Mateo
But fresh from his domestic success with Chelsea, Bilic believes the time was now for Kovacic to announce himself on the international stage.
“Everybody rates Kovacic in Croatia but nobody is really happy with how he has played for the national team, including himself,” said the former Croat manager.
“We are still waiting for Kova to have the performances he has had at Chelsea where, before he was injured, he was on top of his game.
“Now everyone believes this is the tournament where he will show his full potential and quality because he has everything.”
Kovacic can cut it
Few could disagree that Kovacic has got the ability to be up there with the best.
An elegant midfielder with an eye for a dribble, he can be a joy to watch.
But he can also frustrate, particularly in the final third, where he rarely scores or assists.
Croatia’s first task at the Euros is to overcome England, where Kovacic could be pitted against several of his Chelsea colleges.