sport

Kovacic denies Mazzarri rift

Inter Milan midfielder Mateo Kovacic has denied he has fallen out with boss Walter Mazzarri, insisting they have a good relationship.

The 19-year-old is a reported target of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal but is tied to the Italian outfit for a further five years.

And Kovacic moved to deny media reports in Italy that he has been at odds with Inter coach Mazzarri.

"We've spoken ever since he (Mazzarri) came in," he told the club's official website.

"Both when I'm in the team and out of it.

"He knows I'm good on the ball, but that I need to figure out how to move off it.

"We talk a lot, about our private lives too. I'm happy he's here and that I can learn more.

"He tells me to stay calm, especially recently when I've not been playing much, and to train well.

"I played against Sampdoria (last weekend), I did all right, and I'll keep going like that."

Kovacic, who is set to play at the World Cup this summer, is expected to start in Saturday's match at Parma.

"I am happy because I arrived to Inter, a great club," Kovacic added.

"I'm still adapting, I am young and I have to improve so much.

"But I want to become a leader at Inter."

The Croatia international joined the Nerazzurri from Dinamo Zagreb in January 2013 in a reported 15million euros transfer fee.

"I like it here," Kovacic said.

"Italian football is very difficult, there's not a lot of space like in England or Spain but you learn different things such as how to defend and tactics, which are very important."

Kovacic missed Inter's pre-season through minor injuries and although he has made 27 league appearances for the Nerazzurri this campaign, he has only started nine times.

"This is a process," Kovacic said.

"I've spoken to more experienced players and they told me it's normal.

"It's normal I was angry when I wasn't playing, that's normal for any player who's out of the team but it was positive anger."

Kovacic has yet to score his first Serie A goal and he is hoping to do that before the end of the season.

Inter are fifth in the standings and hold the last Europa League qualifying spot with five league games remaining.

"It's true that I've not scored yet but I've got time on my side," he said.

"I think I just need to be a bit craftier.

"I see my team-mates but I still don't see enough goalscoring positions, but I talk to the coach and experienced players to improve on that.

"Right now I'm working on everything, including when we're defending and where to be on the pitch when the ball's on the right and left."