Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric is reportedly a target for Premier League duo Chelsea and Arsenal. The London rivals are joined by Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain as teams interested in the Croatian schemer this summer.
A report from Spanish website Diario Gol (h/t James Walters of the Daily Star) detailed how key man Modric may be deemed expendable by Los Blancos this summer.
Walters’ report said: “Club president Florentino Perez is keen to rejuvenate the starting XI and bring in younger players.”
Modric may even be open to a move himself, as noted by Walters: “Diario Gol reckon the midfielder could be keen on pursuing a new challenge outside of La Liga.”
Selling Modric would be a significant move from Real, and one not without risks. After all, the 31-year-old is the chief conductor of passing in manager Zinedine Zidane’s team.
Few midfielders in the game boast the guile, trickery, vision and technical acumen of Modric. The former Tottenham Hotspur ace has been exceptional this season, completing at least 89 per cent of his passes in both La Liga and UEFA Champions league action, according to WhoScored.com.
More than his numbers, Modric is the player who knits Real’s possession together. His ability to keep things ticking over earned Modric special praise from Marca‘s Rahul Kalvapalle after Los Blancos’ Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid: “Pressure release valve, dribbler and distributor all in one—is it any wonder that Atletico captain Gabi hailed him as Los Blancos’ best player in early 2016?”
Given his importance, it seems unlikely Real will let Modric go this summer. Then again, it’s not as though Zidane’s squad is short of other gifted playmakers, particularly with Toni Kroos and Mateo Kovacic.
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
The latter, a 23-year-old Croatia international, seems like the natural successor for Modric.
Pepe Tipped for Milan Move
One other veteran player looking increasingly likely to leave the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium this summer is Pepe.
In fact, the centre-back has been tipped to join Serie A outfit Inter Milan, per CalcioMercato.com: “Calciomercato.com had learned the player had more chances to join Inter rather than Milan, and sources have now confirmed that the Nerazzurri are just a few signatures away from signing the Portuguese centre-back.”
Power Sport Images/Getty Images
However, any deal is still pending and subject to being rubber stamped by Inter’s ownership, even though the club “are in pole position,” per the report.
Pepe had previously been deciding between a move to the lucrative Chinese Super League or a switch to PSG, per Spanish publication Marca (h/t Dan Gibbs of the Daily Express), but a move to Serie A now seems likely.
Even at 34, Pepe is still an excellent defender capable of thriving at the top level. He’s powerful in the air, a precise tackler and reads the game as well as any centre-back.
Like Modric, Pepe can still be a key figure for Real. He remains the best choice alongside skipper and fellow central defender Sergio Ramos at the heart of Los Blancos’ back four.
CARLO HERMANN/Getty Images
Given Raphael Varane has had his share of injury woes, while Nacho remains inconsistent, Pepe can still be an important cog in Zidane’s squad.
The strength of the squad is what has ensured Real’s success in recent seasons, particularly in the Champions League. Waving goodbye to experienced figures such as Pepe and Modric would weaken the core Zidane has come to rely on.