Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric is the best player in the world now, says his Croatia teammate Ivan Rakitic
Modric has had his most impressive campaign to date after leading Croatia to their first ever World Cup final and helping Real Madrid to a third successive Champions League title.
The 32-year-old’s impressive displays saw him being awarded the Golden Ball award at the World Cup and, more recently, beating Cristiano Ronaldo to the UEFA Player of the Year award – much to the fury of the Portuguese’s agent, Jorge Mendes.
But Rakitic insists that Modric has been on another level this year and deserves the accolade.
The Barcelona midfielder hopes that Modric will now on to win the Ballon d’Or award.
“Luka is now La Liga’s big gun, he is the best player in the world this year and we Croats are very proud of him,” he told Novi list, via Goal.
“I wish him that last prize that is left for him to win [the Ballon d’Or] because he absolutely deserves it.
“Those that are jealous of Luka, let them die in their jealousy! I am proud of him and as happy as if I was winning those awards!
“We’ve been together in the national team for 11 years, went through a lot, I love him as my brother. I am happy he decided to stay in the national team, I don’t know what my decision would have been if he retired.”
Rakitic, who turned 30 in March this year, admitted that retiring from international football had crossed his mind following Croatia’s historic World Cup run.
“Yes, I did consider retiring from Croatia, I thought a lot, spoke to my coach, even more to my wife, only to realise my wish to play for Croatia was stronger than anything else, it was hard to say goodbye,” he said.
“My heart decided. There is no greater motive in the world but to play for Croatia and put your hand on your heart as you hear your national anthem! So I can’t wait to join the team in Elche for the Spain game.”
Rakitic has now joined a number of other players in the Croatia squad that have reached their thirties.
“Croatia still has great young players but we shouldn’t put pressure on them to replace Mandzukic, Subasic and Corluka immediately,” he added.
“Of course they will be missed, but we have to let those young talents write their own story with Croatia.”
Croatia will play against Portugal in a friendly game this Friday before taking on Spain in the UEFA Nations League.