Luka Modric, against Thiago Alcantara in the Champions League final.

Luka Modric, against Thiago Alcantara in the Champions League final.
Luka Modric, against Thiago Alcantara in the Champions League final.YOAN VALAT (EFE)

Real Madrid accumulates youth in its list of midfielders with the effervescence of Camavinga and the growth of Valverde while working on the arrival of Tchouameni, but the heart of the team continues to depend largely on Luka Modric, who is three months after turning 37. After a season in which he has once again been decisive and irreplaceable in the big events, especially on the volcanic road to the Champions League, the Croatian signed a new renewal for one season on Wednesday, the second in a row. An example like few others of longevity and performance at the highest level.

After several attempts to operate a calm transition so that the junk would give way, everyone stopped looking at his date of birth. If the previous course months passed until the club agreed to the extension of the contract, this time the process was faster, without hesitation. It’s been a while since he broke all the calculations, so it will be until his physique holds up. The Balkan does not seem to care about the condition of the entity to sign from year to year.

The following will be his eleventh season in Madrid and he will do so at the gates of the World Cup in Qatar (his fourth World Cup), where Croatia will attend as current runner-up. After the great result obtained in the 2018 France event, several of the leaders of that team closed that stage (Rakitic or Mandzukic), but not him.

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According to what he reveals, he does not suffer from symptoms of physical or mental exhaustion. Aware that the law of life narrows his margin more and more, he makes the most of each day in the elite. He closed the recently completed campaign with 3,435 minutes and only three older players added more time on the pitch (defenders José Fonte -38-, Thiago Silva -37- and Raúl Albiol -36-). He always refused to seek a golden and quiet retirement, and his aspiration, as he recalled in the preview of the Champions League final, is to hang up his boots in Valdebebas. There, several of his teammates are still struck by the anger he expends when his team loses in the classic training matches. They nicknamed him “the vinegars” for a reason.

His enthusiasm does not give up and his bodywork does not fail him. In his 11 full courses at the Bernabéu, only in one of them did he suffer serious health problems. It was in 2014/15, the second season of Carlo Ancelotti’s first stage, in which he missed up to 32 games due to injury. Some absences to which the Italian coach has always blamed an important part of the bad outcome of that campaign, which led to his dismissal. In the final ten days ago, Carletto hardly gave him a break on very few days and always with the intention of reserving him for the big commitments. On the way to his fifth Champions League, together with Courtois and Benzema, he was one of the team’s mainstays in all the moments of trouble, which were not few.

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Unlike Toni Kroos, 32, who does not currently offer too many guarantees that he will stretch his career with the same zeal (he has a contract until 2023), Luka Modric does not waver in his intention to perpetuate himself to the limit. Football has not been lacking so far. He signs one more season and nobody knows how much more they can have left.

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