Three ways to replace Luka Modric

Modric continues to be key for Zidane but at 35 it seems time to look for a replacement. We use our Similarity tool to search for the new R. Madrid's number '10'.

Published:24/03/2021

The years go by and the midfield continues to be the key to Real Madrid. The Casemiro-Kroos-Modric connection seems like the most reliable part of Zidane’s plan but Luka Modric is 35 years old and maybe is time to look a replacement for him. Using our similarity tool we can find players with similar characteristics to fill the Croatian’s position and role. This tool take into account more than 50 metrics not only the ones that are shown in the radar chart. In Driblab we use this model to find profiles when we have identified the style of the player and a ideal name. To get a similarity percentage we not only take into account statistics and metrics but also where on the pitch the players perform these actions. Analyzing Luka Modric’s 2020/21 performance we have identified three different ways to replace the midfielder.

Established big names

In the filters used in this similarity we hace selected under 25 years old and under 60 millions euros of transfer market value. Obviously this search have provided us some names that have already been at a high level for several seasons. The most similar players in the selected leagues is Nicolo Barella. The Italian midfielder is constantly improving since his arrival at Serie A getting not only much bigger roles in final third but also improving his influence in the buildup, protecting the ball and selecting areas to get ball progressions. This ability keeping possession really high up in rival field and with his movement to cover so many zones make him a really good fit to replace Luka Modric. The second big name that also appears is Fabian Ruiz who has been linked with Real Madrid for several years with experience in La Liga. These two Serie A midfielders seems like two of the best options to sign if Real Madrid would look for a really highly rated player.

U21 promises

Another way to replace Luka Modric could be planning for the long term. If the Croatian midfielder is still performing at a great level this could be a really good chance to sign cheaper and develop a good profile in a secondary role. This similarity tool also show two of the most interesting young profiles so far this season. Yacine Adli and Ryan Gravenberch are different profiles, Adli better key passing and creation and Gravenberch better influence in the buildup, but that could fit Modric’s role. If we compare them with the rest of U21 midfielders with at least 700 minutes in the top five leagues and Eredivisie we can see why.

Second chance for Dani Ceballos

It is quite surprising to see Dani Ceballos on the most similar list, but could it be that Real Madrid already have the solution in-house? After two irregular seasons at Arsenal and with little regularity in recent months it seems a risky option. If we look at the comparison we can understand the high percentage of similarity but it raises doubts to see if Ceballos will step up to aspire to Luka Modric’s role.

We are Driblab, a consultancy specialized in the statistical analysis of players and teams; our work is focused on advising and minimizing risk in professional football decision-making in areas related to talent detection and footballer evaluations. Our database has more than 180,000 players from more than 180 competitions, covering information from all over the world. Here you can learn more about how we work and what we offer.

Autor: Paco López
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