These observations — where I look at Real Madrid’s history, its players on loan, Castilla, tactical tidbits, and other relevant thoughts — are now a regular thing. All previous editions can be found here.


It has been the greatest run of a central midfielder in Real Madrid history, and, it may not be over yet — but if this is indeed Luka Modric’s last season in a Real Madrid shirt, we should all be enjoying this ride one last time. Appreciate every touch, every shoulder drop, every trivela, every step. Be grateful that you were alive for the Modric dance — the ballet of the best player to ever play in his position bending things to his will for well over a decade.

Perhaps he won’t go out at the very peak of his powers, but he has always been ok with that. Toni Kroos, his wing-man during a dominant reign over Europe, has said publicly that he and Modric both differ on when and how they want to end their careers. Modric will go until he no longer can’t. Kroos has said he’ll walk away sooner than that. It’s only natural that if you push yourself to the very end — to nearly 40 — it won’t always be as graceful as it was during the glory days.

That’s called being human, something no one is immune from. Modric is 38. He’ll have played far longer than most of the players he’s compared to historically — players who fizzle out much earlier than him. He’s mortal, but among the mortals, he’s the least human of them all.

Modric has played less this season amid a transition year where the younger midfielders are incorporated more. It’s hard, nay, impossible to bench Jude Bellingham and Fede Valverde. Toni Kroos might be playing the best football of his career, and Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni are important two-way players — two of the best at what they do.

It has been hard for Modric. Playing less can affect the limited time you do play, too. In Modric’s case, he has admitted publicly that for him to be at his best, he needs to play, if possible, every game to sustain his rhythm. Currently, the Croatian sits at around 1000 minutes, around the same mark as Fran Garcia, and the least of any midfielder apart from Dani Ceballos and Arda Güler — both of whom have had major injuries this season.

But don’t put it past Modric to still have his transcendant moment(s) before his final goodbye. The season is far from over. It was only two years ago he eviscerated the best teams in the world in every single knockout tie he played. It was only one year ago he destroyed Liverpool’s midfield at Anfield. What’s on the horizon next?

Modric is on an expiring contract, with some uncertainty if he will re-sign. From the club’s perspective, treating Modric with as much respect as possible is paramount. It is often said that presidents and owners need to be ruthless and make hard business decisions. That is true, but there are certain cases that must be treated with more care.

Modric is a bonafide legend. He is, full stop, on the Mt. Rushmore of the greatest and most respected legends the club has ever had. If Cristiano Ronaldo and Alfredo di Stefano are at their own table in the annals of Real Madrid history, Modric is comfortably at the next table beside them. Above all, even above the greatness of the special powers laced inside his boots, he has always been respectful and humble. If anyone has deserved the choice to decide to stay or leave, it’s him. Allowing someone like Modric the choice is important. He has earned the right to decide his own farewell tour.

This is still not the end of Modric, though it may seem to be pointing that way. He has looked mortal for once, and did at times against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday. But even against Rayo he had a much better second half, and it wasn’t long ago against Getafe where he was brilliant. Though his time has been limited, he has generated 5.58 shot-creating actions per 90 — the second-best mark in the entire league.

It is not inconceivable that Ancelotti may count on him in an important moment again in this season’s Champions League — even if it’s off the bench for a fleeting moment. There has never been a midfielder with colder blood than him in the highest-pressure moments.

But given that this might be the last ride, consider this a stark reminder to celebrate and appreciate what’s left of a super-human player.


By admin

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