Toni Kroos has been among the best midfielders in the world for more than a decade now, but the second half of last season proved that he is no longer indispensable for Real Madrid.
Eduardo Camavinga and Federico Valverde are on the verge of breaking through the first team and were arguably more critical for Carlo Ancelotti during their run to the Champions League title.
In what could be good news for the duo, AS have reported that Kroos will wait before extending his contract, which runs until the summer of 2023. He would be willing to step aside if he feels his importance is decreasing in the team.
The German midfielder has already retired from the national team, and it will not be particularly surprising should he decide to retire by next year.
It does give him a significant advantage over his midfield competitors as they will be competing in the World Cup this year, putting significant physical strain on their bodies in what is a long season.
The 32-year-old played 28 games in the league last season, scoring one goal and setting up three more. While his performances took a significant drop during the second half of the campaign, he has looked sharp during pre-season, especially against Juventus.
He will have to mirror that display through the 2022/23 season in order to protect his spot in what Ancelotti has referred to as the ‘Bermuda Triangle’.
Kroos has assured Madrid fans in the past that he wants to retire wearing Real’s kit, but this season could be the beginning of the end for the midfielder.
Key Real Madrid defender still not 100% fit ahead of Club World Cup semi-final – report
Carlo Ancelotti heads into the FIFA Club World Cup in a pressure cooker situation. The pressure on the manager’s shoulders is immense, for his job could be on the line after Real Madrid’s poor run of form.
The injury situation does not favour the Italian tactician either. Lucas Vazquez, Ferland Mendy, Karim Benzema, Eder Militao and even Thibaut Courtois are out of the semi-final against Al Ahly, leaving him very few options to play with.
According to reports from Jorge C Picon, David Alaba too is not completely fit yet. The Austrian International was given the medical all-clear and entered the squad for Real Madrid’s game against Mallorca, yet started on the bench as he was not at 100%, and that remains the case ahead of tonight’s clash.
The report, however, adds that his mere inclusion in the squad comes as a breather for Ancelotti. Alaba is highly valued by the technical staff, not only for his reading of the game on the field but also for his leadership.
The defender has already missed seven games for Los Blancos since sustaining a muscular injury against Villarreal at La Ceramica. He did indeed come off the bench for under half an hour against Mallorca, but will likely not be risked to start on Thursday.
In his absence, Nacho Fernandez and Antonio Rudiger are expected to take centre stage in defence in Morocco. Eduardo Camavinga, meanwhile, could start as left-back again.
Alaba has played 17 games for Los Blancos this season and was one of the players with the most minutes until his injury. In his league campaign so far, he has scored one goal and provided three assists while also averaging a key pass every ninety minutes.
It remains to be seen if the Austrian recovers completely in time for the Club World Cup final should the European Champions make it. As it stands, using a cautious approach is in Real Madrid’s best interest.