Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric could not have dreamt of a better start to his career in Spain. After weeks of desperation to play for the biggest club in the world, he did play finally. And he won a trophy too against the other big club; attending just one training session with his new team mates. His contribution may have been insignificant considering the context of his debut but his impact on the millions watching him has not been so. In the few minutes he was on the pitch, Luka Modric demonstrated what may lay in store for his new club.
While many were skeptical of his particular transfer happening considering the talent in Real Madrid’s ranks and the chances Modric would get, the club and the player wanted each other. His star shone brighter after his impeccable display against Spain at the Euros, in which his team ultimately lost, but not without a fight. Modric was brilliant throughout the game troubling Spain and creating for his team mates highlighting his true potential.
While he was the most vital cog at Spurs under Harry Redknapp, it still remains to be seen how much will Modric contribute to Real Madrid’s future successes. Harry Redknapp is not considered to be a very tactically astute manager and is definitely not rigid with his formations and style of play. Though he inculcated a habit of bright, entertaining football at White Hart Lane, it needed a talisman to work, a player to carry them through. Luka Modric was that player.
Controlling the pace of the game, being tactically smart and getting into great positions on the pitch have been the hallmarks of his game in addition to his sublime feet. It will be interesting to see as to where he fits in at Real Madrid. The best thing about Luka Modric is his adaptability and ability to play across multiple position on the pitch. He can be a cover to Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil or even Angel Di Maria. He may be the joker in the pack – a player plugging holes without any significant loss of quality.
On the other hand, it may not be a smooth sailing for the Croatian. At Real Madrid, even special players are found out of favor; Nuri Sahin can attest to that. But, watching his first game for Real Madrid against Barcelona, you get the feeling that Modric is not going down the dark road. It was earlier reported that Real Madrid were interested in Cazorla but Mourinho had specifically requested for Modric because of his ability to dictate the tempo of the game and for his work ethic.
Santi Cazorla would have definitely been a decent signing but now that Modric brings the same quality to the table, the fans will not complain. Luka’s arrival has also shuffled the squad quite a bit. Nuri Sahin has been sent out on loan to Liverpool; Granero has been sold to Queen Park Rangers; Lass Diarra made his move to Anzhi; that left only Khedira and Alonso at middle of the park. With these departures, it has become clear where Luka Modric will operate. The club did bring in Michael Essien but he is no way a competition to any of the existing squad members and is purely a backup buy to fallback on in case of unforeseen circumstances. Essien may well turn out to be this season’s Altintop.
Kaka has not yet been sold and he may extend his stay at the club by another year, competing for the playmaking spot with Mesut Ozil. With Modric on the roster, it is very clear that the Brazilian may not be afforded as many chances as last year. It is a happy headache for Mourinho that he has quality individuals at his disposal. The Croatian may not be an automatic starter, as he was at Spurs, but with the quality he has, it will be extremely hard to keep him on the bench. And the number of matches, Real Madrid play throughout the year, everybody will get more than enough chances to prove themselves.
While allegations can be made at Real Madrid for buying talented players and misusing them, over the years, under Mourinho, the situation is different. The players in the squad have been rewarded suitably with new contracts and academy players like Morata and Nacho are being pushed into the first squad. It was also refreshing to see Real Madrid not making any news in the transfer market except for Modric and that testifies the quality of the squad. All it needed was a slight tinkering. Luka Modric may just be a little bit more than that.