José Mourinho and Real Madrid finally got their hands on the coveted La Liga trophy in 2011/2012 and by no means wish to let it escape their grasp. Therefore reinforcements will be required, and one name has appeared more frequently than most – Luka Modrić.
Spurs’ gifted midfielder was the subject of a transfer wrangle last summer with Chelsea, and now the North London club face an even tougher task to retain their prized asset. The powers that be at Madrid see the Croatian as a key piece in their assault on all fronts this upcoming season, but are they looking in the right place?
Well, not really. There are several reasons.
If Modrić did arrive at Bernabéu it would be purely as an alternate rather than a regular, such is the pragmatic nature of Mourinho’s system. If he came as anything other than a Mesut Özil replacement it would require a reassessment of the strategy that has given Madrid so much glory. If he plays alongside Xabi Alonso the system loses its aggression and toughness that made it so impenetrable but also perfect to base attacks upon.
Modrić would be too much of a luxury, and his drifting would leave holes for opponents to pick at. Sami Khedira worked efficiently last season under the radar, with his fine work often overlooked – he’s a brain coupled with brawn alongside Alonso and remains Mourinho’s chosen security policy. If you placed Modrić in the wide areas as Slaven Bilić did at Euro 2012 when altering his system, it would take away the force and drive of those counter attacks that devoured so many last season.
The only other way to see the Croatian would be as a squad player in a rotation system, and that simply isn’t viable for a player of his quality, plus Mourinho already has a dilemma of juggling a number of players in midfield roles.
Nuri Şahin can provide the dynamism from deep and Eseteban Granero the subtle motions in the midfield engine room. Although the likes of Kaká and Lass Diarra will likely be moving on, there is still not enough room to accommodate Modrić.
This is notwithstanding the Croatian’s quality, however; he’s a fine footballer and boast a dynamic, almost unique style. His reading of the game and ability to spin between various transitions of Spurs’ play is glorious to watch, and during his time at White Hart Lane he has no doubt become one of the finest midfielders to have ever graced the Premier League.
His progress has not gone unnoticed in Spain, either, and while the fast-paced Premiership pace attracts admirers in Iberia, it’s clever talents like Modrić who really capture the imagination. After all, in his early days in Croatia Luka was dubbed ‘Cruyff’, a man who has had a staggering influence on Spanish football today. Such players are artists; players who possess so much poise, and confidence, that they’re able express themselves in even the deepest cauldrons of pressure.
But at Madrid, Modrić’sartistry would be restricted. Mourinho’s system would enforce defensive focus on Modric, rather than providing a platform for his weaving patterns in advanced areas.
Modrić’s yearning for Champions League football and playing at the highest level is perfectly understandable, such opportunities have been limited in his career so far, and despite still being 26, a degree of impatience will be creeping in. It’s just that Madrid isn’t the place for him to satisfy the craving right now.
Modric need not worry, however. It’s inevitable that others will come knocking – hell, he may be even tempted to give André Villas-Boas’ new era at Spurs a try.
As for Madrid, they need to invest in areas of the team that require remodelling. For them to blow potentially well over €30m on a player they don’t particularly need would be a grave error of judgement. Right-back is a decisive area for them, and potentially centre-back too. If they do need to bolster the midfield it will require a more physically robust individual who will complement the system better; I’m looking at you, Javi Martínez.
A final word on Modrić though, and that is to not be blinded by the glamorous white shirt of the Real Madrid. Sure, it glitters, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll lead to golden times. Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, must realise that money isn’t burning a hole in the Madrid pocket just yet.
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