‘Deserved it’ — Carlo Ancelotti lauds Luka Modric’s winning goal

Carlo Ancelotti admitted that it’s “difficult” to leave Luka Modric on the bench after the veteran midfielder scored a stunning goal in Real Madrid‘s 1-0 LaLiga win over Sevilla on Sunday.

The 38-year-old Modric — who has started only eleven league games this season — was introduced as a substitute in the 75th minute at the Santiago Bernabeu and found the net from distance just six minutes later.

The Croatia international’s contract is due to expire this summer, and his lack of game time this campaign has led to speculation he could opt to move on after 12 trophy-filled years in Madrid.

“[Modric] deserved it today,” Ancelotti said in his post-match news conference. “He scored a great goal. He contributed a lot when he came on, he brought freshness.

“It’s difficult to leave him on the bench. The way he trains every day, he’s an example for the whole squad.”

Ancelotti said that Modric — as well as Toni Kroos and Nacho Fernandez, whose contracts are also up this summer — had earned the right to decide his own future.

“Modric, Kroos, Nacho are all in the same situation,” Ancelotti said. “I don’t get into that. The club has time to sort all that out in the next few months… Out of the respect I have for [Modric] I can’t give him advice, he’s very intelligent, he knows perfectly well what he ought to do.”

Modric has won 24 trophies with Madrid including five Champions League titles, but faces increased competition in midfield this season from youngsters Jude Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga, Fede Valverde and Aurélien Tchouaméni, as well as Kroos, who has been in career-best form.

“I went through it in the last year of my career [as a player],” Ancelotti added. “I understand perfectly what Modric must think when he doesn’t play. He might be sad. Everyone thinks it’s the end of his career but he doesn’t. He doesn’t look like a player aged [38].”

Madrid’s win leaves them eight points clear at the top of the LaLiga table, with title rivals Girona playing on Monday.