Despite Luka Modric’s best efforts, even he is bound to be hunted down by father time. Now 37, the Croatian can justly claim that he was playing some of the best football of his career last season and looked right at home.
However, as Casemiro’s departure last summer showed, and Sergio Ramos’ the summer before, there is little room for sentiment at the Santiago Bernabeu. Los Blancos are actively on the hunt for a replacement.
If there is one name that has been touted as his replacement more than anyone else, it is Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham. The 19-year-old has become a target for many of Europe’s top clubs and recently Dortmund CEO Kevin Watzke admitted that a conversation was in order to see what Bellingham wanted.
How does Bellingham compare to Modric though? These statistics are taken from league performance by FbRef.
The Croatian (79) tends to average about 24 extra passes per game than Bellingham, including 23 extra completed per game, although the completion percentage is much closer, at 81% to 88% for Modric. Modric also takes nearly 15 extra touches a game.
The two are almost inseparable in terms of shot-creating actions, Modric (3.98) leading Bellingham (3.80), as well as in goal-creating actions.
Defensively, Bellingham’s numbers outstrip those of Modric. The Dortmund midfielder makes 3.2 tackles a game to Modric’s 1.17, and has a full interception (1.4) extra per 90 minutes too.
Although Modric has played 404 minutes less than Bellingham, both have 3 goals and 2 assists domestically this season, one of which was a penalty for the Croat. In Europe, Bellingham also has 4 goals and an assist to Modric’s two goals.
Although the numbers are not purely explanatory, it does appear Bellingham would be able to hold his own in Modric’s role. Some of the statistics in terms of possession are skewed by the fact that Real Madrid average 5% more possession than Dortmund, which also influences the defensive numbers in Bellingham’s favour.
Most importantly, Bellingham seems able to deal with similar duties of creation, which is where Modric has often stood out for Los Blancos.
Any transfer would likely be upwards of €100m, as per Marca, and there has been a strong history of expensive transfers failing to work out. However Real Madrid have shown an ability of late to nurture young talents. Modric himself struggled to adapt for his first year in Madrid but then managed to shape an era at the Bernabeu.