Real Madrid: Luka Modrić still remains crucial to the team’s success

Real Madrid, Luka Modric (Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Luka Modric (Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

The Croatian remains one of Real Madrid’s most important players at 35-year-old.

For all those who thought Luka Modrić would find himself on the periphery of the squad because of the return of Martin Ødegaard from Real Sociedad and the emergence of Fede Valverde, the Croatian has been simply one of the best players – not just midfielders – for Real Madrid since the season started.

For someone who is 35, it really surprises me to see him perform week in and week out. But, maybe I, and everyone else, shouldn’t be surprised about Lukita performing at such insane levels. We know what sort of a player he is and for him to produce such performances should be a given at this point.

At the age when Zinedine Zidane decided to hang up his boots, Modrić is working incredibly hard to remain a vital cog of this team’s engine. And he is succeeding at that, isn’t he? Modrić looks set to play for Real Madrid for at least another season after the current one ends. There have been talks of a contract extension and whispers will continue among the footballing circles.

Zidane wanted to pass the baton to the younger players when he called his time at Real Madrid. Not only that, but he wanted to leave the game at the peak of his powers. At the age that he was, he knew an inevitable decline was right around the corner.

Can Modrić manage to stay relevant enough for the team with his performances? Only time will tell. But he’s certainly standing the test of time. His performances have been nothing short of sparkling.

Zizou has been very clever with how he has used the midfielder. He has featured in all 11 matches that Real Madrid have played, but only started in seven of those. The distribution of those minutes is as follows: 541 minutes in the league (six starts, two substitute appearances) and 101 minutes in the UEFA Champions League (one start, two substitute appearances).

Zidane seems to have found his preferred midfield three of Toni Kroos, Casemiro, and Fede Valverde for the big games. Introducing a fresh Luka Modrić in the second half enables Real Madrid to maintain control in the middle of the pitch. He has shown he is still one of the best in the business while making appearances off the bench. His impact has been substantial.

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Take the Barcelona game for example. He was introduced around the 70th minute. Real Madrid was leading by a goal when he came on. He capped off a brilliant 22-minute cameo with a goal in the 90th minute. Game, set, and match.

It doesn’t end there. When Real Madrid was two goals down against Borussia Mönchengladbach,  Zidane rolled down the ace up his sleeves. The Croatian maestro was introduced to reinforce the midfield and he was a constant menace, pinging balls into the box and linking exquisitely with wingers/full-backs.

It was his ball into the box that found Sergio Ramos, who headed to an unmarked Casemiro to score the equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time.

The stats speak for themselves, too. According to, Luka Modrić has 2.66 key passes per 90 minutes in La Liga, his best figure since he arrived from Tottenham Hotspur in 2012. Although the sample size is very less (just eight games), his next best key passes p90 figure stands at 2.09 from the 2015-16 season.

Modric’s role wasn’t going to be reduced so early.

While Modrić has obviously justified his selection by playing with total devotion, other players wouldn’t have been preferred over him this soon either.

Fede Valverde has been nothing short of brilliant this season, continuing from where he left off last season. However, Modrić’s direct competition in terms of minutes was supposed to be Martin Ødegaard. People have long touted him as the heir to the Croatian’s throne.

However, Ødegaard was never going to become a starter in the first 7-8 games of the season. Yes, he can become one now since Real Madrid have a lot of absentees for the upcoming games. Valverde is reportedly out for three months. But he was always going to be ingrained into the starting lineup very steadily.

What next for the Croatian?

Luka Modrić’s contract is up in June 2021. Teams will obviously want to lure him into joining their club since the midfielder has shown no signs of slowing down, but he has stated his desire of retiring at Real Madrid time and again.

"“It would be great if I were to end my [professional football] career at Real, but that depends on the club. I want to prove that I can play at a high level for a few more years; but if I can’t do it at Real, I will consider other options,” he said."

It wouldn’t be a stretch for Real Madrid to extend his contract. Modrić wants to break the stereotype that players over the age of 35 cannot play for Real Madrid. Well, he’s already 35. Look at him. Why would the club not want to keep this special, special player for at least another year?

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While it remains to be seen if Los Blancos offer the legendary Croatian a contract extension, Madridistas can enjoy the charm of Modrić until the end of the season. It would be interesting to see how he mentors a promising yet raw product in Martin Ødegaard.

While the team begins to prepare for a ‘Revolution’, the midfield will witness a revolutionary switch of its own. The transition of Ødegaard into the team’s bludgeoning creative fulcrum while Lukita takes a backseat will certainly be one to keep an eye on.

Until then, let’s enjoy the genius of Luka Modrić as long as it exists, for he will certainly remain crucial to the success of the team as long as he represents the White.

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