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Why Toni Kroos decided to retire following his prime season at Real Madrid

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

June 1 was an emotional occasion for Real Madrid fans.

They were euphoric seeing their beloved team lift the UEFA Champions League for a record 15th time. But at the same time, there was a lot of sadness as it would be the last time they would see Toni Kroos in action for the club.

Indeed, the German midfield legend stepped down from club football after winning his sixth Champions League trophy and will bring an end to his career after the UEFA Euro 2024.

The decision came as a surprise considering that several reliable sources had suggested only a few months ago that Kroos would be renewing his contract and staying at Real Madrid for one more season.

However, Kroos opted to bid goodbye to his beloved club after a season where he was once again top-notch and had shown no signs of slowing down despite turning 34.

Why did Toni Kroos retire?

Toni Kroos had always been clear that Real Madrid would be his last club and that he would not join any other team even though avenues like the MLS and Saudi Arabia would be lucrative destinations.

Furthermore, the midfielder had always maintained that he always wanted to go out on top and not step away after being reduced to a limited role in the team.

True to his word, Kroos opted to sign off on the highest of highs, after winning La Liga and the UEFA Champions League, along with the Spanish Super Cup, while still being at his best.

“I simply want to be remembered as the 34-year-old Toni Kroos, who finally played his best season for Real Madrid. I did that. I see it as a compliment that many people think the time came too early,” he recently said, explaining his decision.

Signing off on a high. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Kroos himself admitted that he had not yet made his mind up, but winning La Liga and making it to the finals of the Champions League in April convinced him that it was the right time to move away from the spotlight.

“I thought about the decision to retire for a few months but in April I felt the season was going so good and the league was done. We reached the Champions League final. It felt right,” he had revealed on his podcast.

“I never wanted to have the feeling that the club, the fans and the people around me had to tell me ‘it’s over’ at the end, or that I would end up sitting here on the bench for another two or three years.

“That, in some ways, wouldn’t be worthy of a career, so I’m glad, happy and a little proud that I was able to avoid all those things. It’s a nice feeling.”

The personal angle

Another huge motivating factor behind Kroos’ decision to retire from football was his desire to have more time with his family and focus on some of his personal projects.

“As much as this football game is fun, sometimes you think, ‘Wow, I’m travelling for three days, in a hotel, what could I do at home in that time?’ These thoughts have been haunting me for a while now,” the legendary midfielder revealed.

Following his farewell game at the Santiago Bernabeu, Kroos went on to reveal that his daughter was happy about the retirement, further indicating that his family was a major influence in his decision.

“I was surprised when I saw my daughter cry because she was the happiest when I told them I was going to retire. That’s why I was surprised (laughs),” he said.

Kroos now intends to focus on personal projects, like the ‘Toni Kroos academy’ in Madrid, his podcast with his brother as well as the Icon League that he is starting.

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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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