Luka Modric has achieved more in his career than many top footballers of this generation. Throughout his time, he has gone about his business silently but very effectively. But with the pangs of time now watching up, the Real Madrid man’s influence is fading away.
Be it at Tottenham or at Real, Modric’s impact has always been felt. Even for the Croatian national team, the midfielder has led from the front. While the FIFA World Cup eluded him last year, Modric’s efforts for club and country saw him win the Ballon D’or last year.
Since then, Modric has hardly been the player he was before the World Cup. Serie A giants Inter were close to signing him in the summer of 2018, but Florentino Perez decided against selling him. Real had lost Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane in the space of some weeks. They couldn’t afford to let another prized star go.
While that was a fair judgment by the Los Blancos, the current situation isn’t promising for Modric. Now 34, he has missed six games due to injury this season already. He has played nine times in all competitions for the club, scoring once and assisting thrice.
At this age, injuries are never good for any player. They make things even tougher- especially for those who want to keep performing at the top level for huge clubs like Real themselves.
The numbers this season show how Modric has slackened off. Modric has averaged 1.1 dribbles per game this season- the lowest ever stat during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu. He also averages 1.1 key passes per game. That too is the lowest ever in his career (including his Spurs days).
Even his defensive numbers have reduced this season. He has won 0.7 tackles per game so far and has made 0.9 interceptions as well. Both of them are at an all-time low already, with the latter matching last season’s interceptions tally.
Last season, Spanish daily Sport criticised Modric heavily. An article said:
“Modric is a shell of his past self. Slow, without ideas, passive, no energy. He’s disappeared. The Croatian has lost freshness and agility to move the ball and the play collapses on him. He wanted to go to Inter in the summer and maybe Madrid should have let him.”
That is quite a fall for a Ballon D’or winner. And since he has played only seven times in the league, these averages are likely to fall even more once Modric plays more games in the first-team. That will be a disappointing sight.
At the age of 34, Real would be looking at Modric and thinking how much they can get from his sale. With Federico Valverde impressing a lot under Zidane, things are getting even more tough for Modric.
The 21-year-old played in place of Modric against Galatasaray recently. He won a single tackle, making two interceptions. In midfield, he had a passing accuracy of 96 percent and came up with one key pass too.
Valverde scored in Real’s recent win over Eibar and impressed in the win over Granada. He has played in place of both Modric and Kroos, doing well in either role.
The fact that he’s already a regular for the Uruguayan national team means that he should play regularly at Madrid too. He has done enough to do so, with Modric’s performances now showing no good signs at all.
It isn’t to say that Real should have got rid of Modric last summer itself. But the club is now heading towards a generational change. There are many players in that team who have achieved there is in the game. That includes Modric. In a situation like this, the motivation and desire to win give a 100 hundred percent every week reduces.
One can’t be these motivational aspects for Modric, but his performances have slackened off. Age is the likeliest reason. With an able replacement already at the club, Real should look to sell Modric next summer and recover a big part of the £30 million they gave to Tottenham.