In 2012, just weeks after his £30 million transfer from Tottenham Hotspur, Luka Modric was labelled one of Real Madrid's biggest flops by the clubs fans.
Fast forward almost four years and at last month’s Ballon d’Or ceremony the midfielder became the first-ever Croatian to be included in the FIFA World XI.
During those years, the diminutive playmaker has well and truly proved his doubters wrong, developing into one of the world's best midfielders and firmly establishing himself as an indispensable member of the Madrid team.
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Modric was the best player on the pitch by some distance during Real's 2-1 victory over Granada, producing a midfield masterclass as manager Zinedine Zidane recorded his first away win.
In a somewhat unbalanced starting eleven, the Croatian international played with finesse, linked defence with attack, made more key passes than any of his teammates and ran the show from the first minute to the last.
As well as dictating Madrid's tempo, Modric also produced two or three sensational through balls which cut through Granada’s defence and put the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in on goal.
With his 25-yard wonder goal - surprisingly just his second La Liga strike of the season - in the 85th minute of Sunday's game, Modric not only secured Los Blancos all three points but also effectively kept their title challenge going.
Is he Real’s most important player?
Modric possesses everything you would want in a modern day central midfielder and as a 30-year-old he is one of the most experienced players in the current Real Madrid squad. Not only does the former Dinamo Zagreb starlet have great vision and technical quality, but he also has a fantastic range of passing, a willingness to work hard and the awareness to sense danger and snuff out opposition attacks.
Gareth Bale is injured at the moment, while both James Rodriguez and Isco have been in and out of the team recently, making Modric the one constant in Madrid’s midfield. Sergio Ramos may wear the captain’s armband but it’s Modric whom Zidane has entrusted to be the leader out on the pitch as the player who has the biggest influence on Madrid’s style of play with his classy, elegant nature.
The Croatian international seems to be relishing the extra responsibility given to him by Zidane and at 30, he still has many successful years ahead of him in his position. He lets his football do the talking and his presence will be absolutely vital in Real’s quest for trophies between now and the end of the season.
Do you think Modric is more important to Real Madrid than Cristiano Ronaldo? Give us your opinion in the comment box below!