Luka Modric turns 36 today according to Marca, the week he returns to the Santiago Bernabeu after its renovation. The Croatian missed the previous game against Real Betis through injury, but is expected to have recovered throughout the injury break. He joined Real Madrid at 26, and is, remarkably, just as full of vim and vigour now as he was a decade ago.
The Ballon d’Or winner looks after his body famously, and has the physical capability of going blow-for-blow with La Liga’s youngest and fittest midfielders. He renewed his contract toward the tail end of the season for one more year, without soap opera or drama. He’s confident that he can deliver performances of such a high level that will keep him at Madrid for as long as he wants, and he’s said on the record that he wants to retire at the club.
Modric has now extended his career in the elite further than Andrea Pirlo or Xavi managed to do. Pirlo was in MLS at this age while Xavi was in Qatar. Not since Zinedine Zidane has a player retired at Madrid; Modric seems determined to make it to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which would mean that he’d need to earn one more contract at the Bernabeu to match the Frenchman.