German World Cup winner Toni Kroos may have only joined Real Madrid on Thursday, but he is already making all the right noises.
On being unveiled at the Bernabeu, the midfielder said moving to Real was a "step up" from Bayern Munich, per Hamish Mackay of the Daily Mail.
With that statement, he alienated himself from the fans he served for seven years and ingratiated himself to those he is yet to perform for.
So, having nailed his new bright white colours firmly to the Real Madrid mast, what will he bring to the team?
During Germany's run to the World Cup final, the 24-year-old midfielder lined up on the left of a midfield three in Joachim Low's 4-3-3 formation.
At Real Madrid, where Carlo Ancelotti employs a similar system, that would put Kroos in direct competition with 22-year-old attacking midfielder Isco, who made 32 La Liga appearances last season, scoring eight goals and providing six assists, per WhoScored.com.
However, at Bayern, the versatile midfielder played on the left and right of a midfield three, as well as alongside Philipp Lahm as a deep-lying midfielder, and it is this versatility that will be key to getting games at the Bernabeu.
But on being bumped around the order at Bayern, Kroos only notched two goals and four assists in 29 Bundesliga appearances last season, per WhoScored.com. Those stats will have to improve if he faces the same problem at Real.
Being shunted around the line-up and being subbed 13 times are key reasons why Kroos opted against extending his contract with the club at which he started his career. Choosing instead to make the £20 million move to Champions League winners Real Madrid and sign a six-year contract.
At the World Cup, Kroos proved his quality. In just seven games with the national team, he matched his goal tally for the entire Bundesliga season, as Tom J Doyle of Squawka explains:
Kroos was one of the stars of the World Cup, scoring two and setting up three more as he led Germany’s creative output – he made the most successful passes (522) of any player at the tournament with an overall accuracy of 90 percent, while also winning 60 percent of his tackles.
The midfielder enjoyed a similarly fruitful domestic campaign, creating 40 chances and achieving a 92 percent pass accuracy as Bayern starved their opponents of possession. Kroos was also his club side’s top performer in the Champions League, completing 94 percent of his passes, creating 21 chances in 12 games and winning 55 percent of his tackles.
The three-time Bundesliga champion can play anywhere through the middle of the pitch as he has no discernible weakness, but as suggested above, he excels when it comes to passing—in particular playing those key through balls.
But he has some tough competition at Real Madrid, with plenty of players who can do just the same.
The German will be battling for a regular place in a midfield that boasts Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Isco, Asier Illarramendi and Casemiro—all of whom have just won the Champions League, let's not forget.
And despite speculation about moves away from the Bernabeu, Sami Khedira and Angel Di Maria still remain too.
It's tough to see how Kroos will fit into such a quality Madrid midfield on a regular basis, but given his ability, he can certainly add something to an engine room that conquered Europe last season.
However, rather than leaving his substitution and selection troubles behind at Bayern, he has stepped into an even great challenge at the Bernabeu.
It will be fascinating to see how he fares and who makes way for the German.
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