MADRID, SPAIN - AUGUST 27: Luka Modric in action during his presentation as a new Real Madrid player at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on August 27, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Luka Modric is a versatile player. He will be able to play in four positions in Real Madrid's current 4-2-3-1 scheme, although as he stated in his press conference, he plays at his best as a center midfielder. While some Real Madrid fans are really satisfied with the new Real Madrid player, some others complain about his price. In this analysis, the following question will be answered:
Is Modric capable of significantly improving Real Madrid's tactical options? Is the price reasonable considering the football market's standards?
The answer to those question is Yes, head after the jump to see why.
If Real Madrid's rivals try to play a defensive game--just like Getafe or Valencia did recently--Modric will surely be Mourinho's first choice to create some space, and subsequently, goal-scoring chances. Mourinho decided to replace Lass Diarra for Benzema in both games whenever Real Madrid needed to score the next goal. At the right you can see how the team looked like after that substitution.
It's obvious that this is not the ideal situation for Mesut Özil. Even more because the German gets tired really easily, and it's hard for him to press in the last 30 minutes of the game. That leaves a really unbalanced Real Madrid team, and there's no surprise that Getafe managed to even score the second goal playing against that lineup. But that's the only choice Mourinho had when he wanted to go desperately for the win.
That is, until Modric joined the roster.
The Croatian's best position is exactly Özil's in the scenario I described before. Some journalists believe Modric is a better player in Özil's position in the regular 4-2-3-1, but the truth is he has hardly ever played there for Tottenham Hotspur. Former Spurs' Manager Harry Redknapp was sometimes criticized for playing Modric on the left wing, but the 26-year old Croatian played mostly in a three-man midfield, until Daniel Levy brought in Scott Parker and Redknapp decided to play Modric beside him. The attacking midfielder position was Van der Vaart's, but never Modric's.
That being said, it's true that Modric could replace Özil in the regular 4-2-3-1 if needed. That's where he first played when he was at Dinamo Zagreb. Since that position doesn't require as much stamina as the central defensive midfield, it might be where Mourinho will try him out in his first matches. He could even improve Özil's streaky game due to the necessary competitiveness that the German is missing since beating out Kaká.
It all depends on the opposing team. There are certain games in which you need Khedira's physical presence. He's a very underrated player, but it's obvious that Modric's playmaking abilities would help the team more against defensive-minded teams. It's true that Mourinho is not the most offensive-minded coach in the world, but he's not as defensive as many journalists claim. It would not be a surprise to see this projected lineup many times during the season. Tottenham did something similar last season, and Scott Parker is nowhere near as good as Xabi Alonso on defense.
Take note of Cristiano Ronaldo's position. That's his usual move whenever Real Madrid establishes its attack. The space he leaves on the left wing is used by the left back. Mourinho usually moves Xabi Alonso to the left a little bit, and it's still unknown whether he will do the same with Modric on the pitch. In this projected lineup, the space Cristiano Ronaldo leaves on the left wing could be used by both Marcelo/Coentrao and Modric.
One way or another, it's hard to imagine the kind of poor offensive version of Real Madrid against Getafe or Valencia with Modric on the pitch. He might not start against the top Champions League or Liga BBVA teams on the road, but he is surely going to be a very valuable option whenever the team needs to find some answers to an opposing team's tight defense.
And of course, there are at least 40 games a season in which Mourinho could use that projected lineup without having much fear of losing the defensive control of the game.