The Croatian midfielder, who won the Golden Ball at this summer’s World Cup, made his first appearance of the season on Wednesday, coming on as a second-half substitute during Madrid’s 4-2 loss to city rivals Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.
Butragueno, who is also a club director at Madrid, believes Modric will stay in the Spanish capital, despite his agent saying this week that the 32-year-old is keen on a Serie A switch.
“There is no issue with Modric,” Butragueno told Movistar+.
“He couldn’t be happier to continue playing for Real Madrid.”
And then there were three. If there was any doubt that Atletico Madrid could mount a serious La Liga challenge this year, it was expunged in Estonia the moment Diego Costa lashed a grenade past Keylor Navas.
The UEFA Super Cup is a tame curtain-raiser compared to what will come but there is a sense that Atleti proved they can go the distance in the title race after dispatching Real Madrid after extra-time.
Reigning champions Barcelona have freshened up an aging squad and Julen Lopetegui, who suffered the trauma of being sacked by Spain after being handed the Real reins, must smooth out the Cristiano Ronaldo aftershocks.
We sum up the reasons for and against all three clubs hoisting the trophy come May – below is Real’s turn. Check out the assessment of Atletico Madrid here.
WHY THEY WILL WIN LA LIGA
Zinedine Zidane’s sense of timing was immaculate. After winning a third Champions League in a row, the only way to go from there was downhill.
Even though his tactical mind was often unfairly undermined during his tenure there was a need for fresh ideas for players who had grown too comfy with success. Do-or-die European games stir the blood in a way La Liga games against the likes of plucky Girona simply don’t, but Julen Lopetegui’s sweeping changes can flush out the cobwebs.
His arrival from the Spain set-up should also imbue Isco and Marco Asensio with confidence in a more possession-based game, while Gareth Bale – barring injury – has shown signs he can star in the absence of Ronaldo. Indeed, Ronaldo or not, their first XI still radiates with magnificence.
WHY THEY WON’T WIN LA LIGA
Losing Ronaldo was bad enough but more worrying than losing his unparalleled quality is Real have failed to find a replacement full stop. Their options in central attack are paper thin, as even if Karim Benzema finds his goalscoring boots, Borja Mayoral is unlikely to strike fear in defences.
Further back, Lopetegui failed to convince Mateo Kovacic to stick around and there is worry Luka Modric is not fully committed given the recent Inter Milan rumours. A lack of depth also persists behind Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos in defence.
It is bizarre Los Blancos expended so much energy in signing a keeper in Thibaut Courtois when there are so many obvious needs elsewhere. Florentino Perez must act before the transfer window deadline catches up with him.
Ronaldo doesn’t need to be in the Spanish capital to still be the biggest story of the season. Will it be a case of coping or flourishing without his presence?
Certainly there has been more of an emphasis in pre-season on playing through Bale, who can cut defenders to shreds either down the touchline or cutting back inside. He must remain fit or at least functional.
Asensio is taking up what was Ronaldo’s position in his younger days, on the left of a 4-3-3. With Isco as a free-roaming No10 it’s certainly easier on the eye – but Ronaldo is the ultimate in substance over style. It remains to be seen which side of the coin this team lands.
Hello one and all, David Cooper with you throughout the day for every nugget of Real Madrid news.
5:15pm – Real unhappy with Inter’s conduct
Real Madrid have reported Inter Milan to FIFA over their pursuit of midfielder Luka Modric.
Read more, here.
12:02pm – Ramos vows Real will bounce back
10:30am – Madrid not best pleased with Inter
Real Madrid are unhappy with Inter Milan’s pursuit of Luka Modric, according to Marca.
Read more, here.