Ultimate summer transfer targets: Luka Modric

The Croatia midfielder spent much of last season on the bench at Real Madrid following a move from Tottenham and his lack of game time has alerted several sides this summer
By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Writer

Luka Modric has been here before. The Real Madrid midfielder has been linked with a move every summer since making his breakthrough at Dinamo Zagreb in 2005-06. So far, however, there have been only two transfers - but could 2013 bring a third?

Modric became Tottenham's joint-record signing (alongside, surprisingly, Darren Bent) when he moved from Zagreb to White Hart Lane before Euro 2008 for a cool €19.5 million. Prior to that, the Croatia midfielder had been linked with a number of Europe's elite clubs, including Barcelona.

Subsequently, Spurs fought off suitors (among them Manchester United and Chelsea) in 2009, 2010 and 2011 before ultimately agreeing to sell their creative hub to Madrid in 2012 and doubling their money in a deal worth around €39m.

Modric was dubbed 'Lucky' Luka by his new team-mates as los Blancos claimed the Spanish Supercopa by beating Barcelona shortly after his arrival but the Croatian spent much of his debut campaign in Spain on the Santiago Bernabeu bench.

Dinamo Zagreb 2004-08 125 32
Tottenham 2008-12 159 17
Real Madrid 2012- 52 4
The stylish middle-man featured in most of Madrid's matches overall and made the majority of his starts towards the end of the season but the departure of coach Jose Mourinho has left the midfielder with something of an uncertain future, his place in the line-up remains unclear.

The 27-year-old seldom started in the double pivot as the Portuguese preferred Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira (particularly against stronger sides when the coach wanted more defensive steel), while he also failed to permanently displace Mesut Ozil further forward.

Modric was one of the few players still on good terms with Mourinho at the end of the Portuguese's chaotic reign and thanked the coach publicly for his help over the last season as he posted a picture with his boss on social media, yet he has recently ruled out a possible link-up with the 50-year-old at Chelsea.

Manchester United and City would also like to sign the creative Croat but the player himself is keen to make his Madrid move a success.

That may depend, however, on the identity of the club's next coach. If, as expected, the new man is Carlo Ancelotti, Modric is likely to play an important part in the club's project for 2013-14. "Modric is an exceptional player and one of the best midfielders in the world at the moment, in my opinion, because he can fulfil more than one function in the team," the Italian enthused during Euro 2012, adding: "I didn't need to see him at the Euros to know about his quality."

Now, the two seem set to work together at Real and those words would suggest that the Croat will be staying in Spain this summer. Ancelotti's move has not yet been completed, however, while the Italian will have to juggle a squad bristling with some of the world's finest footballers.

In the meantime, then, interested clubs will watch and wait. Madrid are looking at a number of top targets this summer, including Modric's former Tottenham team-mate, Gareth Bale. President Florentino Perez has also hinted that Kaka has a future at the Santiago Bernabeu, while los Blancos may also bring in another midfielder for the coming campaign.

Modric wants to stay but a new coach and a new project may mean many new players and some sales, too. It is likely to be another long and hectic summer at the Bernabeu and Modric's many admirers will not have given up hope just yet of sealing his signing in the current transfer window.