With the squad now beginning to take shape, it is time to add Luka Modric to To the Lane and Back’s best XI.
The Croatian international has been in scintillating form this season, often pulling the strings from the midfield while Scott Parker, Sandro or both hang back to protect the defence leaving the diminutive playmaker to attack the opposition.
It all could have been different in the summer as well had Modric secured a move to Chelsea during the transfer window. Publicly declaring his intention to leave Spurs and join their West London rivals, the writing appeared to be on the wall for Spurs and Modric. But, Daniel Levy stood firm by his word and his intention to keep hold of the 26-year-old at whatever cost paid dividends.
Three bids of £22m, £27m and £40m wasn’t enough to tempt the Spurs chairman into selling and Chelsea were left to ponder back to Stamford Bridge with their tail tucked firmly into between their legs as Levy’s stern resolve wasn’t going to be broken by any bid for the player. A substantial section of the Spurs faithful felt his refusal to play in the Manchester United game and followed by a performance in the Manchester City fixture was to be the final straw and with Modric’s head turned firmly in the direction of Stamford Bridge, many believed the best outcome would be to take the money and run, while giving Redknapp and co. enough time to bring in a replacement for the former Dynamo Zagreb midfielder.
But, with Modric staying, his form quickly returned and Spurs fans were witnessing the return of their player of the year. His strike against Liverpool, and celebration to match, meant any thoughts of Chelsea or a move elsewhere were quickly banished and the midfielder was back to doing what he does best.
Nevertheless, as good as he had been in Euro 2008, the tournament that bought him to worldwide prominence, his career with Spurs failed to take off early with then coach Juande Ramos deploying him as a defensive deep-lying playmaker and with a player of such a slight frame, he was unable to cope with the physical demands of the Premiership, despite his earlier statement that ‘once you had played in the Bosnian league, you could play anywhere’, in relation to the physicality of the Eastern European league.
However, once Redknapp deployed him further up the pitch, fans at last began to understand why the club matched their transfer record of £16.5m for the player. At first utilised on the left, before the emergence of Gareth Bale, Modric has since been shifted in field alongside either Scott Parker, Sandro or Tom Huddlestone and despite looking physically out of his depth, the Croatian schemer has comfortably held his own against the more battle hardened Premiership midfielders.
Now one of the most recognised league players, Modric continues to excel in his position and is often praised by Redknapp and his peers for applying a similar attitude to training as he does in matches. With two holding midfielders, and a striker who knows how to hit the back of the net in a regular basis, you can expect to see the best of Modric bought out this season as Spurs look to re-claim a place in the top four and establish themselves as one of England’s, and Europe’s, best teams.