Not many football pundits believed that the Croatian mid-fielder Luka Modric would fit into the imperious Real Madrid squad and regarded him as an another addition to the Los Blancos bench alongside the likes of Nuri Sahin, Gonzalo Higuain and the injury prone Kaka. The readers of the newspaper Marca even voted him the worst signing of the year.
Luka Modric was signed at the very end of the transfer window in 2012. He cost over thirty million euros and the move cost him. Not having a full pre-season with Madrid had made his adaptation harder. On the pitch, Ozil and Di Maria were already donning the attacking midfield while Alonso and Khedira were trusted completely by Jose Mourinho. Modric himself then admitted that “At Real Madrid, getting into the team will be the biggest challenge”, and so it was.
Initially, he was unable to leave his mark on the field with very few minutes he got on the pitch. He rarely started in a game as the defense oriented manager Jose was in favour of Sami Khedira. Modric still had his moments like, he scored a crucial goal against United in UCL round of 16 tie, but still was far from his best managing only three assists and three goals in the whole season.. The season ended with the disappointment for the whites as they didn’t manage to win anything.
This season, on the arrival of the new manager, Italian Carlo Ancelotti, many new players like Illaramendi, Isco and Bale came in too, and the battle for the starting place even grew tougher. But the master mind Ancelotti came up with his rotation policy where each player got considerable time on the pitch.
Ozil signed for Arsenal and Di Maria was assigned the playmakers role in his place. Then disaster struck for Khedira in November as a knee injury on international duty bestowed upon him 6 months in the treatment room. Thanks to others misfortunes, Modric began to start in the more games and the difference was clearly visible.
Modric not only was able to hold the ball, but also was adding a new attacking dimension to the centre midfield with his quick runs, dribbles, through balls and precise long passes. The number of passes completed by him turned to be the highest by any Madrid player this season. He took the complete responsibility of the defensive midfield in the absence of Xabi Alonso, who is considered as the fulcrum of Real Madrid attack.
Modric was almost everywhere on the midfield with tackles, creative passes and even long range shots on the goal whenever necessary. On the ball and off of it, he was brilliant. Everyone knew his range of passing was excellent, but what amazed the fans was the fantastic work rate he put in. It’s rare for a creative player in the modern game to work so hard. He ran up and down for 90 minutes and had been on the pitch for virtually every kick of the ball in La Liga this year, becoming a key figure in Real’s resurgence to the top of the league.
He grew in confidence match after match, and his consistent performances started to get the standing ovation from the Bernabeu faithful. His presence has made such an impact on the midfield that, nowadays you cant imagine a Los Blancos side without Luka Modric. Ancellotti’s 4-3-3 formation has made “Real” a more ruthless,menacing and balanced unit and the credit surely goes not only to their BBC trio (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano), but also to the likes of Luka Modric who surely has transformed from a modest Luka the Magician Modric.