Jose Mourinho has admitted he tried to convince Luka Modric to join Chelsea in a personal phone call with the player, but the Real Madrid man declined the chance of linking up with his former boss at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking with Croatian newspaper Sportske Novosti (h/t Ben Jefferson of the Express), the Chelsea manager revealed he had a private conversation with the former Tottenham midfielder, but Modric didn’t fancy trading Madrid for a second stint in London:
I called Modric only privately but he doesn't want [to join] Chelsea.
You know I really appreciate Luka Modric and his qualities. But he stays in Real Madrid.
According to Jefferson’s piece, Mourinho was in touch with the Real Madrid midfield maestro prior to Chelsea's move for Cesc Fabregas; the former Arsenal man did eventually sign for the Blues in a £27 million deal from Barcelona.
After signing the Spanish international, Chelsea’s interest in Modric has naturally cooled, but looking into these latest reports, it seems as though the 28-year-old Madrid man may have been Mourinho’s first choice.
Here’s how Fabregas and Modric compared in La Liga last season:
|Appearances (Sub)||28 (8)||29 (5)|
|Average Key Passes||1.6||1.5|
Playing alongside Xabi Alonso and Angel Di Maria in a formidable midfield triumvirate, last season was arguably the best of Modric's career. Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe thinks that Modric was close to being Real Madrid's player of the season:
Wide range of opinions (re: RM PotS). Di Maria, Modric are the most popular choices. I pick Di Maria myself.— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) May 25, 2014
Here are some of his best moments from his stellar 2013-14 campaign:
His ability to surge forward with the ball, dictate the tempo of a game and drift between the lines was on show throughout the campaign, and he was one of Madrid’s finest players in the Champions League final, where they triumphed over city rivals Atletico Madrid to win an unprecedented 10th European Cup.
Squawka provides us with an insight into how vital a player Modric was for Madrid in their pursuit of European glory:
Luka Modric has completed 599 passes in the Champions League this season, more than any Real or Atletico player. pic.twitter.com/pLfW2orsNP— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 24, 2014
Typically we associate Modric's standout qualities with the intricate side of the game, but last season—despite his diminutive somatotype—Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti was able improve the defensive attributes in his makeup too.
Modric was a superbly tenacious and unyieldingly energetic foil for the playmaking abilities of Alonso in the middle of the park, and these qualities will have surely attracted the attention of his former boss.
Should Chelsea have pursued Modric instead of Fabregas?
Modric worked with Mourinho during his ill-fated reign as Real Madrid manager, and subsequently Mourinho will have been well aware of the qualities the midfielder could have brought to this Chelsea team.
After all, Modric shone at Spurs during his time in the Premier League, and if he was to join up at Chelsea, he’d be a fine partner for the physically imposing Nemanja Matic at the base of the Blues' midfield.
But a move for the player now looks extremely unlikely, as Mourinho insisted Chelsea’s summer spending was over after a deal was completed for Atletico Madrid’s Filipe Luis, per Ian Cruise of talkSPORT.
Modric would have almost certainly stuck around at Madrid anyway, although he looks as though he’ll have to fight for his place in the Los Blancos first team this season. Sami Khedira missed the vast majority of the last campaign through injury but will be coming into pre-season on the back of a fine World Cup.
The European champions have also signed both Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez in big-money deals, and both of those players will be vying for a spot in a Madrid midfield that’ll have no shortage of quality. But such was the level of performance showcased by Modric last season, it’d be a major surprise to see him out of the team.
If that did prove to be the case in the opening months of the campaign, perhaps Mourinho could revisit the possibility of signing the Croatian in the January window. But for the time being, the Portuguese boss will be delighted with his acquisitions at Chelsea, while Modric will be content playing alongside the likes of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo with the European champions.