Saturday, 7 July 2012

Bad move for the Croatian playmaker

With speculation growing that Luka Modric is off to the Bernabeu I thought I would take a closer look at this move. Modric is a great talent who is so comfortable on the ball. He is always happy to receive the ball even in tight situations and will get himself out of trouble with an easy pass. I first witnessed Modric's talents in that infamous 'Mclaren Umbrella' game where he ran the show. He controlled everything Croatia did and although Ivica Olic got a lot of plaudits for his work and goal that night it was Modric who was the star man. It cant be a coincidence that Spurs took their performances to a new level once Modric joined in the Summer of 2008 followed by Redknapp's arrival in October.

It's fairly clear that Modric has the ability and talent to play for a top club who are consistently in the Champions League every year which unfortunately for them is not Tottenham. The club did extremely well to keep hold of him last summer with the speculation he would go to Chelsea. It is quite possible that Spurs made it clear to Modric he would not be sold to their London rivals last summer but if he stayed for one more season and helped them to a top 4 finish he would be allowed to move on if the right club came in for him. Spurs would not sell him to Chelsea who had moved on to sign Hazard. It is interesting to consider that AVB was the boss at Chelsea last summer whilst they were in hot pursuit of Modric and he is of course now the boss at Spurs. If it was player he wanted to sign I would like to think he would try his utmost to persuade Modric to stay committed to Spurs as they look to step out of the Redknapp era and the team could be built around him. Either this isn't the case or Modric is so set on leaving it doesn't matter what the Europa League contenders have to say to him.

Modric was excellent against Spain for Croatia in the Euros when he operated in the number 10 role, a position I'm sure he would like to have played in more for Spurs. However, that role was predominantly occupied by Rafael Van der Vaart leaving Modric sitting deeper alongside Scott Parker. The defensive qualities of Parker allowed Modric to roam around and get forward from his central midfield position resulting in 4 goals and 4 assists in the Premier League last year. In comparison, Benoit Assou-Ekotto also managed 4 assists from left back so this is a stat Modric would look to improve upon but also reflects the role he had to do for the team.

So where does Modric fit in at Real Madrid, if in fact reports are true and this is his destination? My initial thoughts were that he would be looking to start in the number 10 role where Ozil and Kaka also like to start. That automatically puts him 3rd choice for Mourinho in that position. Ozil started 30 La Liga games last season whilst Kaka started 17 in an injury interrupted season. One of Higuain and Benzema will always start up front for Madrid, most likely Benzema after last season where he truly showed his class. This leaves 3 spots in the team for Modric to operate in an attacking position in Madrid's 4-2-3-1 system. One of those will always be Cristiano Ronaldo who started the most La Liga games for Los Blancos last season, the other 2 places will be filled by Ozil, Kaka, Di Maria, Higuain (wide right), Callejon and now Modric. In a free flowing team Modric would have no problems starting in one of the wider positions as he wouldn't need to stay wide and hug the touchline. Much like the same way David Silva and Nasri start wide left and right respectively for Man City. They also drift in and the defensive work is generally done by their full back. Ozil has proven to be first choice in the number 10 role and he won't relinquish that easily. The £50million Kaka was back to somewhere close to his best at the end of last season and so he won't be leaving Madrid. I could have seen AC Milan returning for their hero if his form hadn't picked up.

That leaves Modric back in a deeper position as a deep lying playmaker. That's fine, he can do that role and with better players around him he can flourish in it. One problem with that though, Xabi Alonso. He is the 3rd name on the team sheet for Mourinho behind Ronaldo and Casillas and is excellent at what he does. He started 35 La Liga games last season and managed 9 assists. That would put Modric 2nd choice in that position as the 2 of them could not play together in that formation, Madrid and Mourinho require a less techincal 'battler' type in the form of Khedira or Lass Diarra. Diarra is highly likely to leave Madrid this summer despite starting 15 games in the league last year. Perhaps Spurs could get him as part of this deal as he would form a formidable partnership with Scott Parker in their midfield allowing the full backs even more license to go forward. Esteban Granero can also operate in that position for Madrid and Pepe is used there in the games vs Barcelona. This all means there are limited opportunities for Modric at the Bernabeu to start at least. I see his Madrid career following the same pattern as the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and Arjen Robben (although of course he is not dutch). He will spend 2 seasons at Madrid before leaving for a cut price and then playing really well for his new club with a new lease of life. None of those 3 players particularly excelled at Madrid and whether it was managerial decisions and falling out with certain other players none of them succeeded at Real. Modric deserves to be starting every game for a club in the prime of his career not sitting on the bench waiting for 20 minutes here and there when in all likelihood his team are already 3 goals to the good.

Money talks and so do trophies. He will get more money at Madrid than he did at Spurs and of course is far more likely to win trophies there but I'm sceptical whether it is the correct move for his development. I feel a move to Man Utd would have really suited him although Spurs are understandably reluctant to sell him to a Premier League rival.


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