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Toni Kroos' future at Madrid bright despite differing summers

The German midfielder won the lot a year ago but finished his first year at Madrid in disappointment. That disappointment should not last.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Toni Kroos is set to experience a slightly different summer to the one he enjoyed a year ago.

Last August the German midfielder was riding the crest of a wave. If bringing his career at Bayern Munich to a close with the Bundesliga title and German Cup was not enough, he was a crucial cog in Germany lifting the World Cup in Brazil. He was also looking forward to a move to the current European champions, a move that Carlo Ancelotti helped rubber stamp.

"Ancelotti's also one of the reasons I came here [to Madrid]," Kroos said earlier this season. "I think it's normal to talk with the coach before taking that step. He gave me a positive impression and told me Madrid would be even stronger with me in their ranks. It was obviously a good conversation."

However, it was not a good conversation that Ancelotti held with Madrid president Florentino Perez recently. The Italian, the one Kroos wanted to play under, was given his marching orders on Monday after two years in charge. The German pass master finished the season without any domestic trophies to add to his ever-expanding trophy cabinet and without the man who convinced him to sign. What a difference a year makes.

The £24million man can, however, look back on a relatively successful first campaign at the Santiago Bernabeu on an individual level. Ultimately, Kroos was the man picked to plug the gap that Xabi Alonso eventually left when he moved in the opposite direction to Munich. Asier Illarramendi had tried and failed.

The biggest compliment that Kroos can be handed is that Alonso was not missed not this season. While the former Liverpool man lost his pace and some of his stamina in holding the Madrid midfield together, he still had that speed of thought, organisation and inspiration in the middle that boosted Madrid. He was the glue that largely held Madrid together even though his best years were behind him.

In Kroos, Madrid could not have picked a better replacement. Not only does the German have the qualities, the stereotypical German organisation and reliability, the passing and the intelligence to succeed Alonso, he has a calm head for a relatively young player and arrived in the Spanish capital having won it all - Bundesliga, German Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Champions League and World Cup. He showed little pressure playing in an arena that can eat even the most experienced players up.

Madrid had their problems this season, particularly in midfield, but Kroos was not one of them. The only problems arose when tiredness kicked in. The former Bayern man complained on fatigue while on international duty but his coach did not take heed. He continued to play and in numerous matches he showed a clear dip in performance levels. A rest and fresh legs were needed, especially with the ‘business end' of the season creeping in.

Overall, Kroos played 48 matches and accumulated 4033 minutes in all competitions. Those minutes came in the middle of an intense Madrid midfield, often without key men such as Luka Modric and James Rodriguez around him, and on the back of guiding Germany to World Cup glory. There were no suitable back-ups - Kroos was one of Ancelotti's "non-negotiables".

He was also left to adjust to a deeper role this season, a role that had been largely alien to him but a role he admitted enjoying. Kroos had been used to play further forward, providing the killer pass in the final third, but now he was the man orchestrating the play, hogging the ball, and linking defence to attack. As with James and Isco, he had turned into more a team player under the Italian.

Still, and despite James, Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo being better positioned to finish high in the assists stands, he managed ten assists from deep this season and was involved in plenty of other key moves that did not result in a statistic. Two goals were forthcoming, too, although his long-range shooting often left plenty to be desired. If there is one area for improvement over the summer that may be it.

Kroos was able to control the pace of games in the middle, providing the simple passes and the more pin-point through-balls when the time was right. He kept the risks low and that enabled Madrid to have more of the ball, something Ancelotti craved from his first season in charge when he took control of a largely counter-attacking team. The Italian wanted a mix of both and the Bayern man was arguably the biggest key in trying to achieve that.

The statistics from this season's Champions League, club football's elite competition, tell the story. The 25-year-old leads the way in the pass completion stakes with a 95 per cent success rate - 829 of his 872 passes found their target. Ironically, those statistics were enough to see him edge out Alonso at the top of the standings.

Kroos also added a set-piece threat from a squad blessed with set-piece takers. Ronaldo, Bale, James, Modric and even Sergio Ramos can all send in a dangerous cross but Kroos is the most pin-point with right-foot crossing. Just one more string to his decorated bow.

Ancelotti may have gone but Kroos is one name who will almost certainly be one of the first down on the next manager's team-sheet, whoever it may be. In the German, the next coach will have a player who is equally adept at sitting back and controlling the play from deep or pushing further forward to provide the final, killer pass. Kroos, in that respect, is a luxury and Madrid will have that luxury during the best years of his playing career.

Kroos could benefit from some things, however. A rest now and again would not go amiss for a player who needs to be at his freshest and sharpest to ensure Madrid ticks. For that it needs a manager who embraces rotation and puts faith into players such as Casemiro, who enjoyed a year on-loan at Porto this season, or a president who dips his hand in his pocket to strengthen in the middle. A big squad, as Barcelona have shown so far this season, is crucial for a club who demands success in every competition.

A little bit of luck will be required, too. When Modric was fit and healthy he took some weight off the German´s shoulders and he performed better. The trouble was, the Croatian missed half of the season through injury and Kroos, and Madrid, suffered.

This summer could not be much different to the last for the World Cup winner but Kroos will be crucial if Madrid are to reverse their fortunes 12 months down the line.

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