Croatia midfielder Luka Modric has been pulling the strings for his side at the World Cup. Could he be the player to win the Golden Ball award as best player? Moscow (dpa) - Wanted: one Golden Ball winner. Requirements: you must make the difference in the team, be able to read the game, change the game, be a leader within the team.
"That makes somebody the best player of the tournament," former striker Marco van Basten, now with the FIFA technical studies group, told reporters when outlining the criteria in mind. Step forward, perhaps, Luka Modric. The Croatian midfielder could be the man for the 2018 World Cup's best player, to be announced by football's ruling body on Sunday. First comes the final against France in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Events in the match will undoubtedly help sway the technical studies group when they make their key tournament awards afterwards.
But Modric certainly appears to fit the bill after helping his side reach their first World Cup final. The 32-year-old Real Madrid playmaker and Croatia captain is the man who makes the difference for Croatia. He is has won three man-of-the-match awards in six games in the tournament, and helped Croatia win two penalty shoot-outs. "A player like Modric, who is reading the game and guiding the game and his team - having a player like that in a team brings you up far," Van Basten said. Modric, the former Dutch great said, "is really guiding his team to a higher level."
The qualities the FIFA technical group are looking all seem to be found in 1.72m Modric, who could also well be a candidate for the next award for world player of the year. "It's about technique, tactics, physique, mentality. if you are able to make the difference in between these subjects then I think you are one of the players able to win the prize of the best player of this tournament," Van Basten said.
"He could be decisive in technical skills, but also that he can read the game and change the game for his team-mates. "Physically he is the one giving what the team needs but mentally is he a captain, is he a leader in the team?" Modric has scored two goals in Russia and rebounded from missing an extra-time penalty against Denmark by converting in the ensuing shoot-out. According to FIFA, no player has covered more ground at this World Cup than Modric's 63 kilometres.
Others, of course, are in the running: form the losing semi-finalists prospective Golden Boot winner Harry Kane and Belgium's Eden Hazard might have a word to sa, and France has at least two candidates in strikers Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann. Whether an award comes or not for Modric, it is the most successful tournament yet for the player who joined Real from Tottenham Hotspur in 2012.
The six-time Croatian football of the year has since won four Champions League titles with Real and become one of the most outstanding midfielders in Europe. He was picked in the Euro 2008 team of the tournament but in his previous World Cup tournaments he made just two substitute appearances at Germany 2006 and was unable to shine in three matches in Brazil four years ago. Now he could not only lift the World Cup on Sunday but scoop the best-player award.