World Cup 2018: Luka Modric could already be Ballon d'Or winner, says Dejan Lovren
Luka Modric may already have won a Ballon d'Or award if he was Spanish or German, says his Croatia team-mate Dejan Lovren.
The midfielder has been a regular at Real Madrid since 2012 but no Croatian has ever won the Ballon d'Or.
"Because we are a smaller country, he does get less attention than he deserves," said Liverpool's Lovren.
"Modric would probably be getting more attention than he is right now if he was a German or Spanish player. He would maybe even be a Ballon d'Or winner."
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have shared the Ballon d'Or for the last 10 years, winning five apiece.
Davor Suker was second in the 1998 voting, after the former Real Madrid striker won the Golden Boot as Croatia finished third at the World Cup.
Modric joined the Spanish giants from Tottenham and has gone on to win the Champions League four times, La Liga once and the Copa del Rey once.
"It is a real pleasure to play with Luka Modric," Lovren added.
"We are all football lovers and we know Modric is an incredible player. He is one of the best in the world right now."
Modric had six assists in La Liga last season, with a pass completion rate of 89.9%.
He has averaged 84.5% from Croatia's first two group games, scoring two goals from his three shots at goal.
Ballon d'Or contenders
Modric has averaged 7.77 in BBC Sport's Player Rater during the World Cup, but how have the other Ballon d'Or contenders fared?
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, Portugal) - 7.39
After a slow start to 2017-18, the forward scored 28 goals in his last 20 games for Real Madrid, finishing with 15 in the Champions League.
This year he has scored more than one goal in the same World Cup for the first time, hitting a hat-trick from just four shots against Spain before scoring the only goal against Morocco.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Argentina) - 4.48
The forward was La Liga's top scorer last season (34 goals) and was joint-top with assists (12) as Barcelona regained the Spanish title.
Scored a hat-trick in Argentina's friendly with Haiti in May but had 11 shots without scoring in their World Cup opener against Iceland, including a missed penalty, and only had one shot against Croatia.
Neymar (Paris St-Germain, Brazil) - 4.38
Since his world record move last summer, the forward had scored 28 goals in 30 games before a foot injury in February ended his club season.
Scored in two World Cup warm-ups but failed to find the net from four shots against Switzerland and had another four shots against Costa Rica before sealing victory with a late tap-in.
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, Egypt) - 6.29
Won the Premier League's Golden Boot award after scoring 44 goals in his debut season with Liverpool, helping them reach the Champions League final, in which the forward suffered a shoulder injury.
Missed Egypt's World Cup opener as he was still recovering and was short of fitness as he played the full 90 minutes against Russia, winning and scoring a late penalty to claim a consolation goal.
Harry Kane (Tottenham, England) - 7.09
The striker has just had his most prolific season yet, scoring 41 goals for Tottenham before being named England captain for the World Cup.
Scored both goals in England's win over Tunisia before claiming a hat-trick against Panama, taking his tally to 13 goals in his last nine internationals.
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid, Germany) - 5.89
The midfielder had five goals and seven assists in La Liga last season, as well as the league's second-highest pass completion rate of 93.1% - he registered 93.9% in the Champions League.
Has averaged 93.2% at the World Cup and although his misplaced pass led to Sweden's goal against Germany, he took responsibility to take the late free-kick which he curled in to claim a dramatic 2-1 win.
Isco (Real Madrid, Spain) - 7.42
The attacking midfielder also had seven assists in La Liga last season, adding seven goals, and has been hugely influential for Spain at the World Cup.
He shot against the underside of the crossbar against Portugal and had a pass completion rate of 94.7%. He then registered 92.4% against Iran from a team high of 105 passes.