Modric backed to beat Ronaldo to awards by Madrid coach Lopetegui

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The former Spain boss wants Real Madrid players to take individual prizes, and says his rotation of goalkeepers is working well

Luka Modric has been backed for the Ballon d'Or and FIFA's The Best award by Julen Lopetegui, despite his manager's disinterest in individual prizes.

Modric played a major role in Madrid's third successive Champions League success and Croatia's journey to the World Cup final in Russia, winning the Golden Ball in the process.

The 33-year-old is one of the three final nominees for FIFA's award along with former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, with Lionel Messi a shock absentee.

Modric is the favourite in the eyes of many, despite some highlighting that Ronaldo's haul of 15 goals was vital in their European success, and his manager hopes that a Real Madrid player can snap up the award.

When asked who he thinks deserves to be called the best player in the world, Lopetegui told reporters: "You said it yourself, I don't believe much in individual prizes.

"Football is a team game, but if you have to recognise great players, then I'd like it to go to our club.

"Modric had a great season, but that's about all I can say. It's a team game and I hope the team wins tomorrow [Saturday, against Espanyol]."

Madrid spent a reported €40 million (£35.9m/$47m) on Thibaut Courtois in pre-season, yet the Belgian has been unable to nail down a first-team spot.

Courtois and Keylor Navas have been rotating between the posts, each playing two La Liga games so far this term and Lopetegui insists it is a system which is working well.

"They're training well, competing well," Lopetegui said. "I can't tell you much more than that.

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"It's a normal situation for them, perhaps more normal inside the club than from outside.

"They're very professional and they want to prove that to everyone and, in respect to the work of the three goalkeepers we have, there are no problems.  They're working very well."

Navas started on Wednesday in the 3-0 Champions League victory against Roma, so Courtois is expected to get the nod for Saturday's match against Espanyol.

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