Luka Modric is having problems performing on a consistent basis game after game, according to Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, after the midfielder was substituted at half-time during Madrid's unexpected 2-2 draw with Espanyol at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Speaking after the game, which he admitted had all but ended his side's chances of retaining the Primera Division crown, Mourinho said Modric had yet to show he could put in back to back performances for the Spanish giants.
"Modric is still having some small problems, especially when playing two consecutive matches in three days," he said. "Each time we pick him twice in a row his performance has not been the best."
Since moving to Madrid for a reported £29 million last summer, Modric has just one goal and one assist in 20 club appearances and Sunday was the second time he has been withdrawn after just 45 minutes with his team struggling in a game.
The former Tottenham playmaker had not been playing particularly poorly, but Mourinho explained he had decided Angel di Maria offered a greater attacking threat with Madrid needing to win the game.
"I was a bit sorry to bring him off because he was not playing badly nor did he deserve to be taken off," he said. "I took a strategic decision. I thought putting Di Maria on and opening up the flanks could help the team.
"And it did, because I think that in the second half the team produced more attacking football. So that is why I was sorry to take off Luka, but it was for strategic reasons."