I’m not going to lie; I have been biding my time when it comes to writing about Luka Modric. Everything went quiet for a couple of weeks but after the meeting between Modric and Spurs chairman Daniel Levy last Wednesday, the storm clouds started to gather and today the s##t finally hit the fan. The 25-year-old claimed yesterday that Levy went back on a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the two of them (more on that later) before admitting that he is threatening to hand in a transfer request if an offer from Chelsea isn’t accepted.
It is becoming a record on repeat for Spurs now. As soon as one player begins to showcase their talent at White Hart Lane, the big clubs come sniffing. It happened with Michael Carrick in 2006, it happened in 2008 with Dimitar Berbatov, both of which subsequently joined Manchester United, and it is happening once more in 2011. The difference with Modric is simple; he is a class apart from the two.
When Spurs sold Carrick in 2006, granted the fans were in uproar about it. Here was the club, that came one lasagne too many to finishing fourth for the first time in their history with the lynch-pin of their team requesting a move. Levy, however, managed to get top-dollar for the England man knowing full well that the club had a ready-made replacement in Tom Huddlestone ready and waiting in the ranks.
2008 again caused up-roar with the fans. Spurs had won their first trophy since 1999 with Berbatov scoring the equaliser in the 2-1 League Cup win over Chelsea. Like Carrick however, the Bulgarian’s head was swayed by the bigger and better things of Manchester United. But the saga was blown massively out of proportion by the United player. Multiple transfer requests while refusing to play saw him force his move to Old Trafford at the last minute of deadline day.
Levy, however, wasn’t willing to let his star asset leave without Sir Alex Ferguson and co. paying through the nose in order to secure his services. Yet, the one problem was, with Levy waiting until the last minute in order to sell, no replacement was lined up which left Spurs short up front. Countless times the Spurs chairman stated he wouldn’t be sold but failed to stick to his guns when push came to shove.
Fast forward to today, literally. Modric is attempting to force his move through by threatening the club with an official transfer request. This comes a day after Levy ‘threatened’ the Croatian with reserve team football, at best. “I reminded the chairman of our gentleman’s agreement when we were in Dubrovnik last summer and I agreed a contract extension last summer,” Modric told Croatian publication Sportske Novosti.
I’ll level with Modric on this, there is no such thing as a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ in football. The key word in that opening phrase was ‘contract’ and the fact that the former Dynamo Zagreb midfielder is under contract until at least 2016. Levy is under no pressure, whatsoever, to sell his star man and, despite insisting he won’t be sold, ala Berbatov, you get the impression that he won’t go back on his word this time.
Granted, keeping a player against his will when he doesn’t want to be there will do more harm than good but Modric can’t go moaning about a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ when he is under contract with his current employers. The initial statement from the fans was that if Levy sells, there will be uproar at White Hart Lane.
However, after the 25-year-old stated his intentions to join one of the club’s fiercest rivals, fans heads began to turn. The previous two days has seen Modric go from hero to hate figure around N17 and can you blame the fans for their new-found hate for the former idol. They feel the club are on the verge of great things and are one or two players short of assembling a team that can challenge for major honours.
Now though, the chances that Modric will find a place in the supporter’s hearts once more are very much slim-to-none. They consider the Croatian’s a foregone conclusion and are hoping Levy doesn’t leave it too late to find a replacement while making Chelsea pay top dollar to acquire his services. You have to feel that fans are more worried about the surround fall-out from the transfer.
The loss of Modric may see key players Gareth Bale, Sandro and Rafael Van der Vaart consider their futures with Spurs also. A lack of ambition could be considered and before too long, the club could be back to square one in regards to status and position. For many years now, the North London outfit have been considered a feeder club for the Premier League’s elite and the loss of Modric will be more catastrophic than Carrick or Berbatov.
Possible replacements, Miralem Pjanic of Lyon and Dynamo Zagreb’s Milan Badelj, have been mooted but the loss of the club’s star performer could be considered a backwards step by the club. However, with the player’s latest statement, it may be worth Spurs cutting their losses and letting Modric leave. Levy will get the most money he can for him and it can be spent on improving the strike-force and covering the cost of his replacement.
Reports suggest that Chelsea will return with an improved offer tomorrow at the latest. The exact figure remains a mystery but it will have to be substantially larger than the initial £22m offer from the Blues which manager Harry Redknapp described as ‘farcical’.
It was only weeks ago that Levy considered the entire saga closed; a statement which Spurs fans knew wasn’t true. With the wheels now fully in motion in regards to a potential transfer, it is now a matter of when not if Modric moves to Chelsea and, after seeing him play live, Spurs loss is very much Chelsea’s gain.
Taken from my own blog The Beautiful Game Weekly.