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22nd Feb 2023

Luka Modrić reminded us again why he is one of the best midfielders of all time

Callum Boyle

An absolute joy to watch.

If you’re walking off the pitch as an opposition player receiving a standing ovation from the home crowd, you know you’ve played well.

As Luka Modrić strutted off the Anfield pitch, having barely broken a sweat, the Liverpool crowd rose to show their appreciation for one of the best players to have played the beautiful game.

They’d just witnessed a 37-year-old run rings around their midfield trio of Jordan Henderson, Stefan Bajčetić and Fabinho and completely dominate.

Liverpool were shell-shocked enough as it was having surrendered a two-goal lead to be brushed aside by the current holders of the Champions League, but without Modrić, none of it would have been possible.

15 minutes into the game, you could have argued that Madrid were dead and buried. Most teams would just roll over at that point and let the Liverpool crowd and team swallow them whole, but the midfield maestro remained calm, causing a ripple effect around the rest of the squad,

They were probably looking at him, thinking: ‘If Luka isn’t panicking, we don’t need to either’.

Luka Modrić

Nothing encapsulated his talents more than for Madrid’s fifth goal of the evening. By this point you’d expect a man at the age of 37 to be blowing and struggling to keep up in a head-to-head race with an 18-year-old youngster.

Instead, he waltzed past him with the ball at his feet. Patiently waiting for the right moment, he continued to carry the ball and then there it was… the killer ball. Vinicius Jr was away before squaring it to Karim Benzema who, after sitting down half of the Liverpool backline, dealt the killer blow and made sure Los Blancos were heading back to the Spanish capital well in control.

The goal was great but once again, without Modrić, that goal doesn’t happen.

Footballers have a tendency to try and overcomplicate things, but not Modrić. Whether it be one/two touch passes, standing in the right place at the right time, reading when to play the ball, go forward, go back, he had it all.

Real Madrid’s dominance over the last decade has been helped by the juggernaut names of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, but their number 10 has been at the epicentre of all of their success.

When we talk about the benchmark for best midfield players of all time, Xavi and Andrés Iniesta are the two names courted but in the latter stages of their career, one opted to move to Qatar while Iniesta is still playing in Japan.

That’s no disrespect to either of those – after the careers they’ve had, they’re entitled to do whatever they want and not be judged – but Modrić, playing at the highest level, is in his own bracket of talent.

While sitting here now, I am genuinely struggling to think of someone as gifted and talented as him. He is the epitome of simplicity executed perfectly.

Modrić’s contract runs out at the end of this season. It’s inconceivable to think that he won’t be playing at the top level but if Madrid do the crazy thing and allow him to leave, anyone who picks him up will be blessed with one of the greatest players of all time.

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