Ivan Rakitic has heaped praise on his Croatia teammate and skipper Luka Modric, insisting the Real Madrid midfielder should be awarded the Ballon d’Or following yet another sensational season for club and country.
The 32-year-old has led Croatia to the cusp of World Cup glory after emphatically pulling the strings in each of his nation’s games in Russia, ensuring he is one of the favourites to be handed the Golden Ball at the conclusion of the tournament.
However, despite being foes on the domestic front, Rakitic is adamant that his fellow midfielder deserves an even higher honour of being handed the sports most prestigious individual award – where he would simultaneously become the first man to end Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s stranglehold on the title.
Rakitic told El Larguero: “It’s time for Modric to win the Ballon d’Or. We will see if it happens.”
Modric has been a linchpin for both Real – where he has been key to four Champions League titles and La Liga triumph – and Croatia over the years, and he could soon be the first man to lift the World Cup for his country when they face off against France in the final on Sunday.
Croatia sealed their route into the final through an extra time victory over England, a win Modric himself insisted was fuelled by the English press underestimating his side’s ability ahead of the semi-final.
He said: “People were talking…English journalists, pundits from television, they underestimated Croatia tonight and that was a huge mistake.
“All these words from them we take, we were reading and we were saying: ‘OK, today we will see who will be tired.’ They should be more humble and respect their opponents more.”