In the end, 23 players played in the red and yellow colours of Spain and united to gift the nation their second consecutive European Championship, and their third major title in five years. But now, as each of these players goes back to his home club to prepare for the 2012/13 campaign, team loyalties will overcome national ones. Now, it is back to Castilians and Catalans, Galicians and Andalucians – and the list goes on.
Real Madrid and Barcelona took their rivalry to new levels last season, with Los Blancos finally breaking Los Cules’ hold over the Spanish game with a 32nd league accolade. And as has been the case each summer, Los Blancos’ name will be linked with every major superstar looking for a move elsewhere.
One such player is Luka Modric. The Croatian mastermind missed out on the opportunity to move to Chelsea last summer and the Blues’ Champions League victory robbed his club Tottenham Hotspur of the final qualification ticket for next season’s edition.
Modric is a wanted man again this summer – but he will not come cheap. As a matter of fact, Spurs have placed a €50M price tag on his head in a bid to fend off interest from Europe’s elite clubs. Despite this, it is now known that Modric is seeking a move elsewhere, with the opportunity of rubbing shoulders with the Santiago Bernabeu superstars on his priority list.
Talk of the Croatian landing in the Spanish capital has been bubbling for some time around the Bernabeu. Now former players are openly asked for their views. And on Modric’s chances of making it at Real Madrid, compatriot Davor Suker made his opinion well known. “I’d love to see Luka Modric join Real Madrid. He has the quality and the ability to play for a big club like Real”, said the former Croatia international.
Modric’s talent is undeniable, but amidst the wealth of superstars that Jose Mourinho already possesses under his guidance, the jury is out over whether his proposed move to Spain would be a successful one.
Few playmakers have been more impressive this year than Xabi Alonso and Mesut Ozil. The Spanish midfield kingpin is a constant fixture under Mourinho and it is no secret that Los Merengues struggled most when his name was not on the starting sheet. The third most utilised player after captain Iker Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo, the ex-Chelsea boss greatly values his man from Tolosa, and has urged the Real Madrid hierarchy to extend his contract until 2016.
Ozil is another player that has gone from good to better during his two years so far in Spain. He managed 17 assists during the past league season, many of them proving to be decisive, such as his delivering Cristiano Ronaldo with the pass that allowed the Portuguese winger to score the winner against Barcelona at the Camp Nou last May.
The German international has been deployed on the right wing on previous occasions, but that is not where he truly feels at home. Ozil is a man that thrives on space and is better suited to a central role. Confining him to running up and down the flanks would be tactical suicide. Added to which he does not have the stamina to bound relentlessly down the wing, as opposed to faster men such as Angel di Maria and Jose Callejon.
Of course, a number of players are bound to leave the Bernabeu and Mourinho will need to fill the void. Perhaps the biggest name is Kaka as the Brazilian has failed to cement a place in the starting eleven after three years at Real Madrid. The €65M lashed out by president Florentino Perez back in June 2009 for the signature of the former AC Milan playmaker appears wasted money now.
Any attempt to lure Modric from White Hart Lane seems to be nothing more than the need for Mourinho to have a playmaker on standby, and at €50M, the transfer would divide opinion. Modric could be given Sami Khedira’s place in midfield, but it then becomes one pass-master too many. And the ability of Khedira to break up opposition play is prized at the White Castle; his name is also one of the first to be scribbled on the team-sheet every weekend.
Tottenham Hotspur do not want to sell their star player to a rival English club, but the cold hard fact is that the former Dynamo Zagreb man would best be suited to life at Chelsea or Manchester United. Despite their recent European success, Chelsea have been begging for a midfield man of Modric’s stature. Manchester United also need the Croatian, as they cannot keep counting upon Paul Scholes for much longer; and Brazilian Anderson has so far failed to live up to the hype that originally had Old Trafford directors salivating over him when he was plying his trade at FC Porto.
However, Perez rarely fails to get his man. Like a spoiled child, Spanish powerbroker always gets what he wants. Despite the hefty price tag set by Tottenham, Modric could still end up at Real Madrid before the summer is over. Whether that would be a smart move for La Liga’s champions is another story.