Toni Kroos has hinted at frustration with Julen Lopetegui’s tactical decisions at Real Madrid, with the midfield playmaker telling his boss “I’m not Casemiro”.
The Germany international has reached the very top of the game after being given the freedom to express himself in the middle of the park.
A title winner in Germany with Bayern Munich and in Spain with Real, the 28-year-old also has four Champions League crowns and a World Cup winners’ medal to his name.
He has achieved all of that by getting on the ball in dangerous areas and making things tick for club and country.
Kroos has, however, been asked to sit a little deeper at Madrid this season, with Lopetegui looking for him to operate alongside Brazil international Casemiro.
That is not his most natural role, as he feels more comfortable pushing on, and hopes the Blancos’ approach will be tweaked as they seek to snap out of a four-match winless run which has delivered no goals .
Kroos told reporters ahead of a UEFA Nations League outing for Germany against the Netherlands: “It’s a challenge to reverse this situation.
“We’ve shown we can do it. We’ve always had phases like these. It doesn’t worry me.
"I like playing deeper, but I'm not Casemiro.”
Kroos has taken in 10 appearances for Madrid this season , one less than Casemiro has managed.
Lopetegui needs to decide if he is using them in the best possible manner, as the Blancos have become stuck in a rut.
Questions are now being asked of a manager who only inherited the reins at the Santiago Bernabeu from Zinedine Zidane over the summer.
Real return to action after the international break with a home date against Levante, with a Champions League meeting with Plzen then set to be followed by a first Clasico clash with arch-rivals Barcelona.