Is Luka Modrić the greatest Real Madrid midfielder of all time
Like a fine win, Luka Modrić seems to get better with age.
The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner may not be 37, but his ability to control a game from the middle of the pitch and ability to set the tempo of a game remains undiminished, even if the legs do not last as long as they once did.
Certainly since his move to the Spanish club from Tottenham in 2012, he has had to expand his trophy cabinet, making way for three La Liga winners medals, one for the Spanish club, five Champions League, and four belonging to the Club World Cup.
But, given some of the talented players that have pulled on a Real Madrid shirt over the years, it mat be a stretch to argue that he is the greatest midfielder to have played for the club.
There may be arguments as to what constitutes a midfield player, but these are some names who might make an all-time Real list.
For example, the great Real Madrid side of the late 1950s that won the European Cup five times in a succession had Frenchman Raymond Kopa in their team. A player so good that, in 1958, he pipped the legendary Alfredo di Stéfano to the Ballon d’Or.
Jose Pirri was versatile midfielder who played nearly 600 games for the club between 1964 and 1980, scoring 172 goals and winning 15 titles.
Kopa’s compatriot Zinedine Zidane arrived in Spain after winning two league titles in Italy with Juventus, making an almost instant impact by scoring an excellent volley with his left foot in the Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen in Glasgow.
Zidane was one of the Galactico’s, a group of superstars signed by the incoming Real president Florentina Pérez, the first of whose number was Luis Figo in a highly controversial move at the time.
The Portuguese, one of the finest attacking midfielders of his day, won the Ballon d’Or himself in his first season as a Real player.
Another player who arrived from Barcelona in the same era was Danish international Michael Laudrup, wo after being part of the Johan Cruyff Dream Team, won the league title in his first season with Real, and, at one stage, was so highly rated that his nickname was the ‘King of Spain.”
Clarence Seedorf is the only player to have won the Champions League with thee clubs, and, although the Dutch international is perhaps better remembered for his time in Italy, where he played for both Milan clubs, he also played nearly 160 games for Real, and won the league as well as the Champions League with them.
Modrić himself would be the first to admit that he would have been not so successful in Spain had he not had the benefit of Toni Kroos playing alongside him in the midfield. On average the German gets an average of 0.13 assists for every completed 90 minutes and has been an excellent foil for the Croatian over the past years,
In truth it is impossible to make such claims about anybody, especially when players are compared across generations. Modrić, though, can content himself with the fact that he is in very good company.