Man City star Mateo Kovacic swerves question on Luka Modric retiring after Euro 2024 – Football News

Man City star Mateo Kovacic swerves question on Luka Modric retiring after Euro 2024

Mateo Kovacic stayed tight-lipped on the chances of Luka Modric retiring from international football (Image: Getty)

Luka Modric’s last dance is the last thing on the mind of Manchester City star Mateo Kovacic heading into Croatia’s crunch clash with Italy. Veteran midfielder Modric has not announced plans to retire from the national team but he will be almost 41 by the time the next major tournament comes around.

Defeat to Italy today would end his glittering international career with a group-stage exit at Euro 2024, providing he opts to call it quits. But Kovacic claims that he and his team-mates are only thinking about getting a vital result.

“Quite honestly, we’re not thinking this might be his last game,” said the City man. “We’re happy he’s here with us again. We’re delighted to have Luka with us out there on the pitch. For the moment we’re entirely focused on Italy and not thinking about that stuff.”

In Qatar 18 months ago, Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic urged supporters not to discount the idea of Modric returning for another World Cup in 2026.

The 38-year-old is still performing at a high level and he won the Champions League with Real Madrid earlier this month. A one-year contract extension quickly followed.

But Modric would need to extend his deal again at the end of the forthcoming season, or take on a new challenge elsewhere, to remain an active player until Croatia’s next major tournament.

Croatia v Albania: Group B - UEFA EURO 2024

Luka Modric is Croatia’s most-capped player with 177 appearances (Image: Getty)

Unless the Madrid star has ambitions of becoming only the second-ever outfield player to feature at a World Cup in his forties – after Roger Milla – it would be no surprise to see him step down from the international stage after the Euros.

The prospect of a legend’s final flourish heaps added importance onto the showdown between Croatia and Italy in Leipzig. After a defeat and a draw, Dalic’s Croatia side need to beat Italy and hope Albania don’t beat Spain to keep their knockout hopes alive.

An early exit from this summer’s Euros would be a devastating blow for a talented generation of Croatia stars, several of whom featured in the run to the 2018 World Cup final. And Italy are sure to put up a fight as they chase down a point to guarantee their spot in the last 16.

“We haven’t shown what we’re able to do in our first two matches, but we’re ready to go,” Kovacic added, “We’re focused on Italy, and we know it’s an honour to represent Croatia.”