Luka Modric is confident Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at the club this summer despite speculation regarding a move to Juventus.
Modric, who has been starring for Croatia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, was asked for his thoughts on Ronaldo's future after his side overcame Russia in a penalty shootout on Saturday, progressing to the competition semi-finals in the process.
"I don't think he's going to go, and I would like him to stay because he's the best player in the world," the 33-year-old said, per AS (h/t ESPN FC). "He means a lot, and hopefully he will stay. I think he's going to stay—that's my opinion. It would be very good if he stayed because I can't imagine him in any other European team."
As ESPN FC noted, rumours about Ronaldo's future have intensified in recent weeks. Juve are reportedly ready to pay €100 million (£88 million) to bring the Portugal international to Turin.
According to Italian football journalist Fabrizio Romano, the Real Madrid man has already agreed personal terms with the Serie A champions ahead of a switch:
Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano
Cristiano Ronaldo has already accepted Juventus contract bid: €30M/season until June 2022. CR7 is now waiting for Real Madrid to let him go and find the total agreement with Juventus. Mendes is working on it. ⚪️⚫️ #transfers #CristianoRonaldo #CR7 #RealMadrid #Juventus
Modric and Ronaldo have both been pillars for Los Blancos in recent years, with each player key to the club's recent dominance of European football.
Real Madrid have won the UEFA Champions League four times in the past five seasons and the past three in succession. Modric's midfield mastery allows Real to control games, whereas Ronaldo's nose for goals makes him decisive in the opposition box.
As journalist Stefan Bienkowski noted after Madrid beat Liverpool in last season's Champions League final, Modric's brilliance often goes a little unnoticed in comparison to some of Real's bigger names:
Still, losing Ronaldo would be a huge blow to Los Blancos. He remains a goalscorer extraordinaire and someone who frequently makes an impact in the biggest matches.
He's an icon at the Santiago Bernabeu too. Having joined from Manchester United in 2009, Ronaldo has gone on to arguably become Real's greatest player, having scored more goals than the likes of Alfredo Di Stefano and Raul.
Per OptaJean, Ronaldo's success in the Champions League also puts him alongside some of the game's all-time greats:
While Modric is a team-mate of Ronaldo's, it would be a surprise if he had the inside track regarding any potential transfer, especially given his focus will be squarely on taking Croatia as far as possible in the World Cup.
But Modric knows just how valuable Ronaldo is to Real Madrid and how difficult it would be to replace him, even with the massive amount of money brought in from his sale.
The duo have been two of many vital cogs in this legendary Madrid side, and losing one would make that stranglehold on the European game tough to maintain.