Real Madrid will miss Luka Modric up to three months of action after the Croatia international suffered a groin injury during Croatia’s clash with Italy on Sunday. The 29-year-old has been a key piece for Carlo Ancelotti during the season, and his absence will be a blow to the boss and to the Los Blancos’ game plan. The Italian manager has plenty of options to replace Modric, but who would be the best choice?
Isco is in great shape and form, as he proved last Saturday with Spain. Very few players in Real Madrid squad are as decisive as the Andalusian at the moment. Playing him alongside Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez in a three-man midfield line could be an option for Ancelotti. Yet, that would require a bigger effort from the Spaniard and the Colombian in defence, and Ancelotti’s successful 4-4-2 system would have to be dismantled. Isco is not used to playing that far from goal, and his game could be affected. In order to better take advantage from Isco’s great shape, he needs to play in a more offensive position, thus using him as Kroos’ pair doesn’t seem like the best choice.
Sami Khedira and Asier Illarramendi are the most likely candidates to replace Modric. The German international was an important man for Ancelotti last season, but this year an injury and the controversy surrounding his contract renewal have changed his role in the team. Modric’s injury seems like a perfect chance for him to recover the coach’s trust and show that he can still be important for Los Blancos.
Picking llarramendi would have a lesser impact in the team’s display. Ancelotti has often used him to give Kroos and Modric some rest, so the Spaniard is no stranger to being pairied with the German in midfield. His presence would reinforce Los Merengues defensive system. Plus, it would allow Kroos to join the offensive more often, and we all know what are the huge benefits of that.
Other riskier options would be giving youngster Alvaro Medran a chance or testing James Rodriguez as Kroos’ partner. Both options seem very unlikely to occur. Medran has proved to have a brilliant future ahead, but he doesn’t seem ready to take on such a responsibility. Meanwhile, James has never played in that position, and despite his undeniable quality he would need a few games to adapt to such a different role.
Whoever he may chose, at least Ancelotti can’t complain of not having enough options. He might be short of substitutes in other positions, but his midfield line is one of the most complete in Europe.