For the first time in more than a decade, there is a new Ballon d’Or winner, and that’s none other than Real Madrid midfield kingpin Luca Modric.
The Croatia captain has ended the Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi stranglehold on the Ballon d’Or which dates back to 2008.
Modric, who led Real to their third consecutive Champions League and reached the World Cup final with Croatia this summer, capped off a memorable 2018 by winning European football’s oldest individual prize in a ceremony on Monday.
This is in addition to being crowned the 2018 FIFA World Cup Adidas Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.
The triumph, however, has not discouraged gamblers from putting their money on Modric not to retain the gong this season, with Betyetu registration recording the highest number of those who have registered citing its lucky Friday bonus where every Friday evening, players that have placed, at least, one bet during the week get free bets.
This seems to be a reputation of 2012 when barely a season after ditching English Premier League club Tottenham for Real Madrid, Luca Modric alongside former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song who signed for Barcelona were voted the worst signings of the year.
Spanish media blamed Madrid’s hierarchy for splashing money to bring the player to Santiago Bernabeu only for him to fail to push on and claim a regular role either as a deep-lying playmaker like Xabi Alonso, or attacking midfielder like Mesut Ozil.
You can only wonder what the then critics have to say now that the 33-three-year old is the World’s best player six years after putting him to the sword.
Meanwhile, if age is anything to bank on, then the bookmarks might be spot on in their decision to back Modric to cede the prestigious award at the end of this campaign. It is still early into the season but stats are certifying age is indeed catching up with the Croatian.
Real Madrid has shown signs of improvement under new manager Santiago Solari who succeeded sacked Julen Lopetegui but still their struggles this season is partly being leveled on his aging players where Modric finds himself alongside captain Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema just to mention but a few.
The argument would be Cristiano Ronaldo is also 33 years old and is still favorites to win the Ballon d’Or accolade at the end of the season, why not Modric? The question which was well answered last weekend when Ronaldo helped Juventus beat Fiorentina 3-0 to extend their unbeaten run in the Italian Serie A.
The Portuguese who joined the Italian giants from Real Madrid this summer slotted his 10th goal in 14 league games, becoming the first Juventus player to achieve the fete after John Charles in 1957/58.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi is equally doing better this season, but we can’t rule out Luca Modric challenging them again this season since he still has the gas to keep going.