Luka Modric blows out his cheeks. “It would be a huge loss,” he says. “Like when Cristiano left. But you can’t think about the past.
It’s football and that’s it.”
Modric has faced Lionel Messi 21 times and is the only player since 2008 other than Cristiano Ronaldo to beat him to the Ballon d’Or. He knows what it would mean if he leaves.
“If it happens it will be a huge loss for the prestige of the league,” he tells AFP. “But we need to go forward. Other players will become stars.
“When Ronaldo left, the same thing happened, the life of Real Madrid went on without him and it will be the same for Barcelona and La Liga without Messi.”
After Ronaldo, Real Madrid needed two sacked coaches and the return of the old one to get back on their feet, a recovery still not complete as shown by a second consecutive exit in the Champions League last 16.
The first step is defending the title they won in July.
“We don’t have a young team but we have an experienced team,” says Modric. “We have young players, who will get better. I don’t know if we will buy players but even if it stays like this, we have enough quality.
“We showed it in La Liga and we know we can do it again. After the suspension, we came back so motivated. We missed football, we missed winning games.
“We had worked so hard, I think physically we were the best team in the league and that’s why we won it. It was my second La Liga title and I want to win more.”