Kovacic: Pirlo one of the greatest in Serie A history

The 18-year-old admitted that comparisons with the Italy veteran are flattering, but added that Saturday’s Derby della Italia is no more important than any other clash

Inter midfielder Mateo Kovacic admits he is flattered by comparisons with Andrea Pirlo, but insists he has a long way to go before he can match the Juventus star’s exploits.

The Croatia starlet has been compared to Pirlo since his move to Italy in January, but has stressed he does not attempt to emulate the style of play of a player he considers one of the finest in Serie A history.

“Pirlo is one of the best players in Italy, perhaps in the history of Italian football,” he continued. “I play my football, he plays his, but there are no comparisons. I am just starting and I have to learn alot, but he is great.”

The Nerazzurri face Antonio Conte’s league leaders in a crucial Derby della Italia on Saturday, but Kovacic has stressed his side must put all thoughts of rivalry aside and concentrate on securing maximum points to aid their push for the Champions League places.

“I know little of the rivalry but I know the Bianconeri,” he told Corsport. “They have proven themselves a great team, the strongest in Italy. For me, games are all the same because they are all worth three points. Juve are a great team, but a game is a game. I want to win.

“It’s hard to get in the Champions League because now are now sixth, but if we play as well as we did against Tottenham we can do it.

“We have to play well every game, which honestly we are not doing now. If all we give 120 per cent, we can qualify.”

The 18-year-old moved to Serie A during the January transfer window for a fee in the region of €13 million, and despite reported interest at the time from the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United, he claims he only ever wanted to move to San Siro.

“Nobody contacted me directly, but I would have picked Inter either way,” he added.