Rafael Van Der Vaart believes his former Tottenham Hotspur teammate Luka Modric is Real Madrid’s key man, and talked Gareth Bale and Iker Casillas.
Van Der Vaart, back in La Liga with Real Betis, spent two years at Santiago Bernabeu before moving to White Hart Lane, where he played with Modric and Bale.
“I’m very proud to have been [at Madrid] for two years, playing a lot of games and scoring a lot of goals,” he said as he reflected on his time in the capital in an interview with AS.
“I came to Madrid and [Ramon] Calderon was the President, [Pedrag] Mijatovic was the sporting director, [Bernd] Schuster was the Coach. Three months later everyone left. Crazy.
“In Madrid, if you don’t win anything it’s a total failure. It’s the club with the least patience in the world. Lose and it’s the end of the world.
“I’m looking forward to returning, as I did with Tottenham in the Champions League. I’m looking forward to that and the start of the League.
“I want to compete with the support of [Betis’] great fans. It’s one of the reasons I came to Betis.”
Van Der Vaart was asked in particular about Modric, Bale and Casillas, and the Netherlands’ World Cup battle with Spain.
“My generation didn’t have much luck. It was half a metre to stop the ball to [Andres] Iniesta, [Arjen] Robben centimetres to beat Casillas…If he was in goal for us, we would have won,” he considered.
“There’s no grudge with Iker. When we went back to Madrid he pointed to his heel and said ‘Rafa, this is why you didn’t win…’ He’s a great goalkeeper.
“It’s a shame [the way he left Madrid]. He won a lot of trophies there and maybe he was disrespected. He’s the blood of Madrid. I hope he shows at Porto that he is the best.
“Modric? Luka is the key player at Madrid now. He doesn’t score a lot or give many assists, but he never loses the ball.
“Bale has great speed and will always get at least 15 goals. What happened is that he cost €100m so people expected him to do the same as Cristiano Ronaldo.
“The Portuguese and [Lionel] Messi are on another level. It’s like being compared to God: Impossible.”