AVA- Modrić is presumably just as “deserving” a winner of this stupid little trophy as any of the other hopefuls—the two other finalists being Liverpool’s Egyptian star Mohamed Salah and Juventus’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Modrić famously helped lead Croatia to a miraculous spot in the World Cup final, and also won last season’s Champions League with Real Madrid. He is a great player, seems like a cool guy, and gave a heartfelt acceptance speech filled with just about enough genuine emotion and charm to distract from the utterly unremarkable, platitude-laden words the sweet little guy who looks like an especially ugly member of the Beatles was saying. You can be perfectly cynical about the award itself and still feel happy for the guy.
Today’s victory feels a little like a career achievement prize for Modrić, who has quietly established himself as the best central midfielder on the planet in recent years, as well as a reflection that what wins individual awards in World Cup years is being the biggest name whom the public can most easily single out as the Most Important Player on one of the teams that got really far in that summer tournament. The World Cup-winning France team suffered from being too good, too well-rounded, and too young to produce a candidate who fit this vague criteria, so runner-up Modrić carried the day.
You could argue that Mohamed Salah’s historic Liverpool season made a

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