Carlo Ancelotti may have had one very specific reason for accepting the Real Madrid job after comments from Luka Modric confirmed the Italian had been chasing the player for two years straight.
Ancelotti finally got his man (and a whole lot more) this summer after leaving Paris Saint-Germain to fill the void left by Jose Mourinho.
Ancelotti wanted me. A year ago in PSG and 2011 in Chelsea. But then Andre Villas-Boas came and Tottenham did not want to give me up.
I also knew of the interest of the (Manchester) United and even if the transfer did not materialise, the public appreciation of a great like Sir Alex (Ferguson) is a big pride for me.
The centre of midfield has been an issue at United for several seasons now and is a problem both Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes have had to contend with.
Eventually Moyes' search led him to signing former Everton charge Marouane Fellaini, but only time will tell if Modric would have been the savvier purchase.
However, the transfer could have been out of their hands altogether, with a Croatian Sportske Novosti report in October quoting the player as saying he wants to finish his playing days with Los Merengues, per David Kent of the Daily Mail.
Modric's time in Madrid started with difficulty, but he emerged as one of the most important players in Mourinho's lineup toward the end of his maiden La Liga season.
Modric made just six assists in La Liga last term—per ESPN FC—but four of those, as well as two of his three league goals, came in the second half of the campaign, showing the time needed to settle in Spain.
Having said that, it would be hard to argue that the playmaker's talents didn't stand out more while he was at White Hart Lane, a trait Gareth Bale is currently having to battle in similar circumstances.
For now, at least, Modric appears to be enjoying life under Ancelotti, making eight starts from his 12 league outings under a manager who clearly appreciates his skill set.
However, as pressure grows on Madrid to usurp Barcelona, Ancelotti will need to find ways to improve his team. Popularity, rather than footballing ability, is sometimes part of the criteria used for such decisions, and Modric is one of the less glamorous players at the disposal of the Spanish giants.
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