Luka Modrić focused on Euros, to reveal Real Madrid future soon

BERLIN, Germany -- Luka Modrić has told ESPN he will reveal his Real Madrid future soon but for now he is focused on Euro 2024 with Croatia, who debut in the competition against Spain at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on Saturday.

Modrić, 38, is out of contract with Madrid at the end of the month but sources have told ESPN the midfielder is expected to pen a one-year extension following teammate Toni Kroos' decision to retire this summer.

"You'll know that very soon," Modrić told ESPN Argentina when asked if he will renew with Los Blancos, who he won a sixth Champions League with earlier in June.

"Right now I'm focused on Croatia. When the time comes, everyone will know, I can't say more."

Modrić will take part in his ninth major tournament with Croatia in Germany this month. His first was the 2006 World Cup, which was also in Germany, and he could yet take that tally to 10 if he reaches the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada, when he will be 40.

"I'm at an age where I'm day-to-day and can't think ahead too much," he added when asked if this could be his last tournament for his country.

"I know I don't have a lot of football left, I'm at the end of my career. How much more I don't know."

During his career with Croatia, Modrić has helped his country reach a World Cup final in 2018, where they lost to France, and to a third-placed finish in the same competition in Qatar 18 months ago.

"I've always believed in myself, but I've always said if someone gave me a piece of paper and said 'Write down what you want to achieve in your career,' I definitely would've been afraid to write all this down," he said in a news conference.

"I didn't expect all this to happen. After all these years, though, here I am."

Modrić's longevity in international football contrasts with the youthfulness of Spain winger Lamine Yamal, who aged 16 will become the youngest player to ever feature in the finals if he lines up against Croatia this weekend.

Barcelona's Yamal was not even born when Modrić took part in his first major tournament in 2006.

"It makes me feel old when I hear things like that," Modrić said when the age difference was pointed out to him.

"But what I can say is that age doesn't matter. Whether you are young or old, the most important thing is what you show on the pitch.

"[Yamal] has done incredible things this season. Everyone sees him as a big threat for this Spain side. He has enormous potential and an incredible career ahead of him."

There is much excitement in Spain about the potential of Yamal and fellow young winger Nico Williams. However, while heaping praise on the pair, Spain coach Luis de la Fuente did not confirm if they would start against Croatia.

"I think that is more important than the footballing side, they are young players, especially Lamine, he's a kid with an incredible talent that only the chosen ones have," he told a news conference Friday. "I like to say they have a gift from God, very few players have those attributes.

"In terms of understanding the game, we're trying to treat the situation normally, but also trying to explain by being humble he will develop much more. If there are bad moments things can fall away fast and there's huge criticism. That goes at the clubs as well. We're reinforcing the education and training from the clubs. They are special footballers, that makes them different from the rest.

"But in those positions Ferran [Torres] and Ayoze [Pérez] have done fantastic things in training, everyone is in great form and fired up. You might take it for granted that Nico and Lamine play tomorrow. You might think it's a surprise if they don't but it wouldn't be for me."

Croatia and Spain feature in one of the toughest groups in the tournament, with holders Italy and Albania completing Group B.

It will be vital for both teams to get off to a good start in Berlin on Saturday and Modrić said Croatia have repeatedly shown they belong in the top tier of international football despite often being unfancied.

"Being the dark horses, we don't mind about that," Modrić said. "Everyone else being the favourites, us being the dark horses, we're used to that. We have to show our unity.

"We're here to make a big result. I think we've shown in last the few years we belong at the top of European football.

"In these championships we've missed the last step to make a really good result. I hope we can do that at this tournament and really do something big."