Luka Modrić has been at Madrid for 10 years and he has not shown the slightest signs of decline. He arrived initially on a four-year deal, and then renewed for another four, before extending for one more when he won the Ballon d’Or. Since then, he has signed two one-year extensions, the one that allowed him to play last season and the one that will allow him to play this season. No arguments were made, and he accepted the salary reduction made by the club due to the impact of the pandemic. I read in AS that he is already in the top 10 longest-serving players in the history of Madrid. Only six of them played a game when they were 37, and only one, the great Puskás, when he was 39.
And it’s not that he holds his own in the team, it’s that he is a leader. He plays as well as he did years ago and better than when he arrived, when it was a bit difficult for him to impose his game. He can spot his team-mates and they can spot him. The rest is a matter of taking care of himself. The secret for a footballer to last into his thirties is to devote more time and attention to football than ever before. Training time, rest time and maximum concentration. Food is key and distractions are kept to a minimum. Body and mind dedicated to football. That’s what Modrić does. The rest comes from his natural physical condition.
It pains me to say it, but on the other side is Gerard Piqué, two years younger, but in a very different place. You might think that his position is more physically demanding, but both at Barça and in the national team he has played a lot of easier games due to the superiority of the teams. And he has long since removed himself from the national team, while Modric is still in his. The big difference is in the dedication. Piqué has made football one of his activities, he leads a scattered life, mentally and physically. He wants to have five oranges in the air and the football one has fallen by the wayside. He is carrying injuries and Laporta and Xavi are already looking at him with suspicion because he earns much more than what he returns.