Why Real Madrid need to cash in on Luka Modric this summer
Background image: Rubén Vique, CC BY 2.0
That Luka Modric played some of the best football of his career last year is not in doubt. He starred in a Croatian team that took the world by surprise in reaching the World Cup final in Russia. He played a key role in Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane's unprecedented managerial run to a third consecutive Champions League triumph. Hence, he was rewarded with both the FIFA Best Player award and the Ballon d’Or, breaking Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's decade-long duopoly.
Unfortunately, the aftermath of that amazing season hasn't been great. Not even close. The Croatian captain is a shadow of himself both for club and country and each suffers as a result.
Croatia failed to match their inspired World Cup form in the Nations League. A 6-0 hammering from Spain in September should have served as a wake-up call but the Checkers remain unconvincing in their early quest to qualify for Euro 2020. Forced to come back at home to beat Azerbaijan 2-1, Zlatko Dalic’s men fell to Hungary soon after. Modric was anonymous.
The 33-year is even worse for his club side. Real Madrid's problems run deep and cannot be blamed on a single player. That said, Los Blancos have a right to expect the player honoured as the game's best to make a difference. Madrid's number 10 has been as ordinary as any player can be.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi single-handedly drags Barcelona to another La Liga title, the Copa del Rey and, with a 3-0 first-leg lead over Liverpool, apparently the Champions League final. Both he and former Merengue talisman Ronaldo reached 600 club goals for their careers in the past week.
Recycling managers in the dugout didn't solve Real's problems. If anything, Zidane's second coming confirms the squad needs an overhaul to challenge for any silverware next season. The team needs reinforcements across the pitch. Several big names are linked. A deal with Porto for Brazilian centre-back Eder Militao is already complete.
While Luka Jovic, Neymar and Eden Hazard could all join to strengthen the attack, Paul Pogba and Christian Eriksen are rumoured to be the key midfield targets. With a massive clearance expected, Modric should be among the departing.
On his day, the Croat can be a force to be reckoned with in the midfield. At 33, those days come few and far between. With just a year left on his current deal with the club, he could walk away for free in 14 months.
Now is the time to cash in on a player who still enjoys an elite reputation. While his brand falls well short of Messi and Ronaldo's, Modric retains sufficient value to fetch the club a respectable sum. There would be no shortage of suitors.
Italian giants Inter Milan made their interest in the player known following the World Cup. There's no reason, assuming the price tag is not overly exorbitant, to think the Nerazzurri wouldn't still be delighted to pair the playmaker with Radja Nainggolan.
On the other hand, a Chinese club wouldn't suffer sticker shock. Players like Yannick Carrasco, Marek Hamsik, Moussa Dembele, and Marouane Fellaini now ply their trade in the Chinese Super League. Modric would be among suitable company.
Qatar and Japan are viable options as well. Xavi Hernandez, Fernando Torres, Lukasz Podolski and Andres Iniesta moved to those leagues in recent campaigns. Wherever he goes, however, the important thing for Real Madrid is that he goes.