Toni Kroos: One more year

Recently, a multitude of reliable sources have been reporting that the club and Carlo Ancelotti are hoping and trying hard to ensure that Toni Kroos does not retire from football after the 23/24 season concludes.

The reports also state that the club will offer Kroos a one-year renewal to keep him on board until the summer of 2025. This sentiment to renew Kroos for one more year, despite a new midfield that replaces the iconic trio of him, Modrić and Casemiro already being in-place, is echoed by the fanbase as well. Despite the heroics of Bellingham, and the impressive performances from the other young midfielders who have become starters, Kroos continues to be one of the most important pieces at the club, and one of the best midfielders in the world. Replacing Kroos like-for-like was never an option, and while the team has gradually transitioned into a new style based around new players, what Kroos brings to the table is simply too good to let go.

One common issue with how non-Madrid fans, and maybe even a few Madridistas themselves, view Kroos is that Kroos is often bunched together with the other guy from his legendary midfield pairing; Luka Modrić. Historically, the two have been inseparable and their levels have always been neck-and-neck, but right now, that is not the case. People tend to forget that there is a four-year age gap between the two. Modrić is still a fantastic player, but he is not as close to his peak levels as Kroos is. For Kroos, you could easily make the argument that his level right now is not far off from his prime at all, and in-fact, some metrics show that he might even be slightly better at some aspects of the game.

 

Kroos, to many, is the greatest passer of the modern era. The way Kroos stands-out in any and all passing metrics is akin to how Ronaldo and Messi stood-out in attacking metrics. Just this season, in a relatively smaller role compared to his previous seasons, in LaLiga Kroos is still leading the way for Real Madrid players in passes p90 (92.4), pass accuracy (94.28%), long passes completed (8.1), forward passes (32), and chances created (2.9). These are incredible numbers which place him at first in Europe for many of these categories. Kroos has the most assists in LaLiga as well (7), in 21 appearances so far. These metrics, combined with his overall play that is not quantifiable, clearly show a player who is still at the very top of his game. Still the best passer and progressive passer in the game, who is also one of the best creators in the game, Kroos has continued to be a pillar for Real Madrid. Whenever Ancelotti needs control in a big-game, he turns to Kroos. Whenever a chaotic game needs to be tamed and control needs to be established, Kroos is the go-to guy. Kroos’ skillset, possibly one of the rarest in football, continues to prove to be invaluable for the team, especially in the toughest of games. With no decline whatsoever in his on ball-involvement or his metrics, Kroos’ renewal is a no-brainer. A player who was never reliant on his physical attributes, it is safe to assume that there will be no massive decline next season either, barring injury problems.

Apart from what he offers as a player, his role as a guiding presence cannot be overstated either. Compared to the new midfield four (Jude, Fede, Camavinga and Tchouaméni), Kroos on average creates 1-1.5 more chances, completes 30-35+ more passes, and an astonishing 5-7 more long-balls. While the young core is very clearly getting better at the more nuanced side of the game, Kroos has mastered those skills like no-other, and one more year of Kroos will only make the transition from him to them easier. Fede, who has openly stated that Kroos is his idol, has considerably improved his passing and decision making. Tchouaméni is also settling into his role as the base of Madrid’s midfield and as a calmer presence than the hyper-dynamic Fede and Camavinga. These new roles the two have started to develop signal that the team is moving away from its reliance on Kroos, and other players are taking up the work he used to do. Yet, both are still a considerable way off from truly completing the transition away from Kroos’ dominance over the Madrid midfield. Keeping Kroos for one-more year will make the transition far, far easier. One more year of learning under the tutelage of one of the greatest midfielders of all time can only be a positive.

Toni Kroos: One more year