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Real Madrid veteran raring to go after World Cup break: “Ready for new battles”

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Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Despite being 37 years old, Luka Modric is showing little signs of slowing down. The midfielder had been a regular starter for Real Madrid in the first half of the season and played each game for Croatia during the World Cup, leading the team to a third-place finish.

Now back at Real Madrid, the midfielder featured from the bench in the Merengues’ 2-0 win over Real Valladolid on Friday night.

But in an interview with Croatian publication Sportske Jutarnji, Modric revealed that he had informed Carlo Ancelotti that he wanted to start on Friday even though he had returned to training just a day before the match against Valladolid.

“I joined the team on Thursday, I was really happy when I saw all the boys and people from the club after a long time. We are very close. Coach Ancelotti asked me how I was, I told him that I would like to start immediately,” he said.

“Of course, in the first game in Valladolid, he told that I would be on the bench and gradually get back into the rhythm. No problem, whatever is needed – I am here, available and ready for new battles and challenges,” Modric added.

When asked if he was feeling any fatigue after the World Cup, the veteran midfielder, who is in the final year of his contract, insisted that he was feeling more mentally tired, as he said:

“Well, I feel a bit of a burden during these months of intense pace, but nothing terrible. I needed to renew my energy more psychologically, and less physically. I already felt at the end of the short rest when I caught myself thinking that I was looking forward to returning to training, competition.”

On whether he expected it to cause a problem for him or Real Madrid in the latter stages of the season, Modric said: “No, I do not expect any later problems from this World Cup drill. I hope that everything will be normal in the spring.

“This is half the season after all, we’re not spent except for the short-term intensive month of the tournament. One quickly recovers from all that, at least I feel that way.”

On how he spent the period of rest between the World Cup and the season restart, Modric replied: “Yes, yes, I rested for a good week. I had a great time with my family, separated from everyone and everything. I needed it very much, and so did they.”

“During that week of rest, I recharged my batteries, but I didn’t relax completely. It’s impossible, the season is in full swing. Therefore, I did three or four training sessions according to my program to maintain my tone. It was good for me.”

On Croatia’s successful run in Qatar, he said: “We played very good football, we were solid and compact. However, the key thing for me was that togetherness and fighting spirit, the character of warriors who never give up.

“That’s what stands out to us the whole world, that mentality, which even much bigger and more powerful ones fail to have from us. Without such virtues in big tournaments, you can’t do anything.”

The midfielder also spoke about the amazing reception he and the Croatian national team received in their homeland after their third-place finish in the World Cup, stating that such moments are what make the sport a ‘miracle’.

“We feel the sincere love of our people, they love us and are firmly with us. They are our strength and motivation. What good are all the trophies and awards if you have no one to share that happiness with,” he said.

“When we see all these people who are truly happy because of the national team’s victories, you best understand the meaning of what we do. And you immediately want a new welcome. Sport is a miracle, football is a miracle…”

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid face Premier League, Saudi Arabia competition for free transfer target

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Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid are set to welcome two new stars this summer, Kylian Mbappe and Endrick, but the Merengues are keen on further bolstering their squad.

Owing to the embarrassment of riches Real Madrid possess in midfield, replacing Toni Kroos with a new signing in midfield is not seen as an immediate priority.

Nonetheless, interesting opportunities will invariably be evaluated closely and it appears the name of Adrien Rabiot has entered the club’s crosshairs.

Real Madrid not the only ones interested

But, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, Real Madrid face stiff competition from Premier League clubs and Saudi Arabian teams in their pursuit of midfielder Adrien Rabiot.

The French midfielder is set to become a free agent if he chooses not to renew his contract with Juventus, a decision that seems increasingly likely.

Rabiot set to become a free agent this summer. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Known for his technical prowess and versatility, Rabiot excels at playing multiple roles in midfield and notably thriving as a goal threat with late runs inside the opposition box that tend to catch opponents off guard.

While Real Madrid have no shortage of quality in midfield, Dani Ceballos’ exit could pave the way for the 29-year-old to secure a signing for Los Blancos.

However, Real Madrid would have to outmanoeuvre both the financial prowess of Saudi Arabian teams and the competitive allure of Premier League clubs to secure Rabiot’s signature.

On top of that, Juventus are also not giving up on their efforts to try and renew the contract of the French international.

In any case, Rabiot is unlikely to be a priority target for the club but they will be sure to keep a close eye on how his situation develops.

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