Carlo Ancelotti said on Wednesday that veteran midfielders Luka Modric and Toni Kroos remain key for Real Madrid despite being left out last weekend.
The whites beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0 this Sunday and the duo appeared from the bench, with Eduardo Camavinga and Dani Ceballos as starters.
Modric, 37, and Kroos, 33, both without a contract at the end of the season, face tough internal competition this season, with Ancelotti stressing that Madrid are in a period of transition.
“They are professionals and they understand what this club means,” Ancelotti told reporters ahead of Thursday’s Copa del Rey quarterfinal with Atletico Madrid.
They know the quality of this squad and I don’t think I have to explain anything.
“We have been talking about this issue since the beginning of the season, it is a moment of transition and everyone has to understand it, the young players and the veterans.”
Modric joined Real Madrid in 2012 while Kroos arrived in 2014 and together they have been a fundamental part of the team’s success.
Together they have won three Leagues and four Champions League, among other trophies.
Until this season they also had Casemiro behind them, but the Brazilian moved to Manchester United last summer, and Aurelien Tchouameni took over that role this season.
Ancelotti said that despite their loss to Athletic, the duo will continue to play a key role for Madrid.
“Of course they can play together, they are performing this season and they have been key, and they will continue to be so,” added the coach.
Ancelotti admitted that Fede Valverde, another midfield option, has not returned to his best form since the World Cup.
The Uruguayan was spectacular in the first half of the campaign but is struggling to get back to those heights.
“He is not at his best level, he is progressing, he is performing, not like in the first half of the season, I consider it normal given the World Cup,” Ancelotti said.
“We have to be patient. We’re not asking him to score goals, we’re asking him to deliver in defense and attack, and when he’s back to his best form, he’ll score again.”