Kovacic: Ronaldo joked with me in Italian

The midfielder has revealed how Real Madrid’s all-time top goalscorer welcomed him to the club and says training was “boring” at Inter

Mateo Kovacic says Cristiano Ronaldo welcomed him to Real Madrid by cracking jokes in Italian.

The Croatia international became Rafa Benitez’s first major signing when he joined the club from Inter in August for €35 million.

He told Sportske Novosti: “[Luka] Modric introduced me to all the guys in the Real team and they are great, big stars, but yet so simple.

“Ronaldo first approached me in the locker room and started to make jokes in Italian! And after that he explained to me what kind of pressure Real players face.

“He is very funny, likes to joke, and of course he enjoys a special status, he is the best player in the world!”

Kovacic’s move came as a surprise after two-and-a-half years at San Siro, where he took 20 months to score his first goal, and struggled in a number of different positions.

However, the midfielder is certain of his best position and took a swipe at Inter for playing him out of position.

“I prefer playing as holding midfielder,” he added. “I’ve played an an offensive midfielder and a left winger – it was not bad, because now I know how to play [those positions], too.

“But, I believe Inter made a mistake with me, moving me and changing my natural position. And that is what Luka and [Toni] Kroos play at Madrid and [Andres] Iniesta at Barcelona.”

Kovacic, who has made nine appearances in all competitions for Madrid, also noted the difference in training at Madrid compared to what he was used to at Inter.

“Training at Madrid is great,” he continued, “we do everything with a ball, it is never boring. They are shorter [sessions] than at Inter, but with higher intensity.

“In Italy it was more boring because we had some training sessions just practicing formations, with no ball-play.”

The former Dinamo Zagreb man concluded by revealing there was no love lost between himself and Inter boss Roberto Mancini.

“I am not sure whether Mancini wanted me at Inter or not! We had no relationship, not good, not bad,” he explained.  

“I don’t know what he thought and in the end I was glad to leave because I don’t know what would have happened to me.

“Mancini never told me anything. In fact, he did, when I was leaving, he told me he was sorry that I was going. But, honestly, I never saw or felt that while I was at Inter.”

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