Chelsea secured the Croat's signature for £40 million despite their recent transfer ban, as the player had already been registered whilst he was on loan, making his re-arrival seem like a new signing.
Kovacic wasted no time in imbedding himself back into the squad, joining up with Frank Lampard and co. in Ireland for their pre-season tour, which began with a 1-1 draw against Bohemians.
One of Maurizio Sarri's acquisitions, Kovacic appeared on 51 occasions for the Blues, part of their Europa League triumph and third place finish in the Premier League. Back for round two, Kovacic is eager to get going again.
Ready to take on another tough test
Impressively, the 25-year-old only missed 11 fixtures for Chelsea during a mammoth campaign, which began in August 2018 and ended May 2019.
This longevity clearly took a toll on him and his teammates, especially as many had little rest post their European victory, in the way of international tournaments (the Nations League and Copa America).
‘It’s important to rest well because we had a tough season with a lot of ups and downs,' Kovacic told the Chelsea website. 'We were tired physically and mentally but now we are ready and preparing to have a great season.'
Winning in Europe and qualifying for the Champions League certainly went under the 'ups' category, however harrowing 6-0 and 4-0 defeats to Manchester City and Bournemouth respectively were amongst a handful of results that soured Sarri's reign, both of which Kovacic featured in.
These put to one side, the man himself believed he performed well after switching from Spain to SW6, saying, 'It was my first year so it was very difficult but I think I did well.’
‘It could have been even better but we won a trophy, which is always important, and we finished third.'
Some fans did not share his personal review; the ex-Madridista did not score once last term, assisting just two goals in all competitions.
Learning from Lampard
Kovacic's statistics in terms of goals contributions make for worrying reading and he could learn a thing or two from his new manager.
As well as being Chelsea's all-time record goalscorer (211), no midfielder in Premier League history has found the net more than Lampard himself. Although this feat seems nigh-on impossible to recreate, Kovacic is eager to learn from the Chelsea legend, mainly to take tips in front of goal.
'I’m looking forward to working with him a lot,’ he said. ‘He was an amazing player and he showed last season that he is a good coach as well.
I’m looking forward to learning how to score from him because he scored quite a lot and me not so much last season!'
Big games galore
After featuring in a World Cup and numerous Champions League ties, Kovacic is no stranger to the big occasions and is prepared to be thrown straight into the deep end in Lampard's first competitive matches as Chelsea boss, Liverpool in the Super Cup and Manchester United in the league.
'We have two big games to start the season but we’re players who like to play big games so it will be nice. I think the whole team and staff is motivated and that’s important now.'
'I want to win a lot of games and a lot of trophies. The most important things in football are to enjoy yourself, play well and win trophies.’