It is fair to say Luka Modric’s move to Real Madrid did not go according to plan…to begin with.
The Croatian international went from being an integral part of Tottenham Hotspur to someone labelled by the Spanish press as one of the worst signings of the season.
And yet Real are now seeing a different Modric, or in fact, they are seeing the Modric they paid over £30million for back in 2012.
The man Manchester United were apparently desperate to sign instead headed for La Liga, and with barely any time to acclimatise, he was branded a mistake.
But Spanish newspaper El Confidencial today runs a very different story to those that did the rounds in rival publications last year. They, along with most other observers now, believe Modric is vital to this Real team.
While most eyes were on the “new El Clasico” this weekend – between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona – Carlo Ancelotti’s men were winning 1-0 away to Espanyol, closing the gap on the top two following their goalless draw.
And Modric was at the centre of it all, having one shot, playing three key-passes and setting up the winner for Pepe. He also had a pass-completion rate of 83%.
It was this performance, along with plenty before it, that has led El Confidencial to call Modric Real Madrid’s “compass”.
In other words, he gives the team direction, and players like that are invaluable.
But perhaps the most interesting quote in the article is this: “The Modric this season has nothing to do with the one last year.”
Of course it was going to take him time to settle, and in the midst of the reported dressing room disputes between certain members of the squad and then-manager Jose Mourinho, a player like Modric may not have shone as brightly.
But now he most certainly is, and he may just make the difference as Real attempt to overhaul the two outstanding sides currently above them.