Luka Modric has praised Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe and says “great players are always welcome at Real Madrid”.
France World Cup-winner Mbappe has been consistently linked with a transfer to the La Liga giants, with countryman Zinedine Zidane currently in charge at the Bernabeu.
However, PSG sporting director Leonardo has repeatedly refuted claims of Mbappe’s rumoured departure, claiming the Ligue 1 club will look to tie down the 22-year-old’s future.
Speaking before the second leg of Real Madrid’s quarter-final against Liverpool on Wednesday, 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Modric said: “You hear a lot of stories about the players who’ll be coming in and who’ll be leaving, but I can’t go into that.
“Mbappe is a great player and he’s proved that with his national team and PSG.
“Great players are always welcome at Real Madrid, but it wouldn’t be right of me to speak about players at other clubs, particularly at this stage of the season.
“We’ll have to see what happens next season, but he’s a top player and is amongst the best in the world.”
Modric: We’ll go for the win at Anfield
Real Madrid head to Anfield with a 3-1 lead from the first leg and will hope to progress to the last four of the Champions League for the first time since the 2017/18 season.
However, Liverpool have a history of memorable comebacks in the competition – most notably a dramatic semi-final against Barcelona in 2019 – and Modric insists his side will not take anything for granted.
“I expect it to be a very demanding game, in which we’ll have to deliver a performance befitting of the competition and we’ll have to put in a top display,” he said.
“We’ll have to try and do what we did in the first leg and attack and defend as a unit, go out to get the win and not defend our lead. We’ve got to go for the win.”
‘I’d prefer to face amazing Anfield atmosphere’
Modric added he would rather face Liverpool in front of a full crowd even though he knows the power of Anfield.
The Croatia international has experienced the atmosphere with both Tottenham and Real, with his last visit in 2014 finishing in a 3-0 victory for the La Liga side in their Champions League group game.
Wednesday’s situation will be vastly different as the ground will remain empty and Modric admits that will be disappointing, even if it would offer an advantage for the hosts.
“We are in a situation everyone knows we are living in at the moment. Hopefully this will change quickly,” he said.
“To be honest I would prefer to play at Anfield with the crowd because of the atmosphere here.
“I played a few times with Tottenham, we played that game with Real and the atmosphere was amazing. Everyone wants to play with fans, with the crowd.
“That’s why we are not thinking about if there is a crowd or not or if there is an advantage for us or not.
“It’s a situation that we are in and we need to do the best we can in the circumstances we are in.”
Zidane: We will manage our injuries
Real’s injury problems have got worse since the first leg as Lucas Vazquez has been sidelined with a knee problem, joining fellow defenders Sergio Ramos (calf), Dani Carvajal (hamstring), Raphael Varane (Covid-19) and forward Eden Hazard (muscle) on the absentee list.
However, Zidane refused to allow it to be considered a weakness as his fit players become overstretched.
“We are going to try to manage our strengths, manage our injuries. We are always going to go out and try to win the game,” he said.
“There are challenges and difficulties. You grow stronger as a team and become more united. That is one of the qualities this team has.
“It is true a lot has happened to this team this season. I’d love to have everyone available but we have everyone who is here and they are the ones who count.
“We will need to compete, defend well and attack when we get the chance. We are very prepared to face up to this game.”