Carlo Ancelotti likened Luka Modric to Paolo Maldini as he declared the veteran midfielder would end his career at Real Madrid – also insisting he has no problem with Toni Kroos.
Ahead of a trip to Sevilla on Sunday, Ancelotti spoke glowingly about both midfielders who have put Madrid in a strong position to strike for La Liga and Champions League glory.
There was a flash point between Ancelotti and Kroos in Tuesday's Champions League clash with Chelsea, when the former Germany international was substituted and was reported to have insulted the coach as he left the field.
Ancelotti stressed that was soon defused, meaning there seems no danger of Kroos and Modric not starting in tandem when league leaders Madrid tackle third-placed Sevilla.
With Madrid edging through to the European semi-finals after extra time, despite losing 3-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu, Ancelotti's decision to bring on Eduardo Camavinga in Kroos' place proved to be justified.
The change had come with Madrid 2-0 behind and facing possible elimination. Modric played the full 120 minutes, and the 36-year-old remains as influential as ever at the heart of the team.
Addressing the Kroos kerfuffle, Ancelotti said on Saturday: "His gesture didn't bother me. He was angry with the coach but not with the person.
"As well as in sport, he is a person with a very high level. I don't need to talk to him or ask for explanations. It's all over after the game."
Kroos, 32, and Modric have been the beating heart of the Madrid midfield, and that is set to remain the case into next season.
Although Modric is now in the veteran stage of his career, Ancelotti sees that as a positive rather than a weakness.
'No problem' to renew Modric
"I think he's going to finish his career here, I don't know when but that's everyone's idea," Ancelotti said. "There is no problem for the club, neither for us nor for him to renew, that is quite clear.
"He takes great care of himself, in his career he has not had any major injuries and that helps him a lot."
Making the Maldini comparison, Ancelotti said: "I had a football legend, who won the last Champions League at the age of 40. If I have to compare him with anyone, it would be with him: for the quality, for the seriousness, for how he understands football. They are legends."
Ancelotti coached Maldini at Milan, having previously played in the same team as the defender who went on to make 902 appearances for the Rossoneri.
Maldini was in fact 38 when he helped Milan to the fifth European Cup/Champions League of his career, but he played on until the age of 40.
Madrid head into Sunday with a 12-point lead at the top of La Liga, with Barcelona and Sevilla their nearest challengers but both surely now playing for second place.