“We now consider this matter closed.” These were the words of Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy on the 18th of June, 2011. Levy made the bold statement in the wake of Chelsea’s initial £22m bid for the diminutive playmaker, following the Blues’ courtship of Spurs’ Player of the Year since the final kick of the 2010/11 season. Well, there are still another eight days to go of the summer transfer window and fans, pundits and ex-pros alike are still wondering where the Croatian will be plying his trade come September 1st.
Since the statement was issued over two months ago, Chelsea returned with an improved £27m offer, one that was, once more, rejected by the Tottenham hierarchy and reports continue to speculate that the West London outfit will make one last attempt to snare their long standing target to Stamford Bridge. Anything upwards of £30m has been mooted, while Chelsea fringe players Yossi Benayoun and Salomon Kalou are rumored to be included as makeweights in any potential offer.
Manager Harry Redknapp admitted that if he had the chance, he may cash in on the 25-year-old in order to, as he put it, ‘get three or four players in’ with the money raised from any potential sale. But, what will happen between now and August 31st in regards to Modric? Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas remained coy on any renewed offer for him, while his employers consider whether returning for the Spurs midfielder would be worthwhile.
As it stands, Bruce Buck and co. may be unwilling to part with another £30m+ especially with the news that the club have struck a deal for Valencia’s Juan Mata. Granted, both are two different players altogether, but after spending over £70m in January, and looking like they are about to do the same again this summer, it may not be viable to take it closer to the £100m mark. However, the Portuguese tactician needs another centre-midfielder before the close of the window following the season threatening injury to Michael Essien.
And while Chelsea have confirmed they are still interested in signing Modric despite the potential Mata deal, will it be viable for Spurs to sell to one of their rivals? Modric has already alienated himself from the fans by declaring his interest to join Chelsea this summer and even though the players have been putting on a brave face, claiming the Croatian schemer has put on a professional attitude since returning to pre-season, surely they too are becoming fed up with the ensuing fiasco.
Reports today suggest that the player himself has gone on strike in order to force through his move, ala Berbatov circa 2008, a decision that will surely do more harm than good in the long-run, especially as Spurs fans are known to be the unforgiving type. How accurate these reports will turn out to be isn’t clear yet, but Modric didn’t play any part in the game at Old Trafford, with Redknapp claiming his head isn’t in the right place.
Redknapp had praised the Croatian international following his return to pre-season training for his professional attitude, despite his best attempts to force through a move to Chelsea but it may be best for the North London side to cut their losses with the midfielder and bring in some new faces before the close of the window. The saga has dragged on throughout summer; it has seriously hindered Spurs’ attempts at bringing in new players and has the potential of de-railing their season.
However, there is one major difference between both the Berbatov saga and the present Modric one – contracts. At the time, leading up to the Bulgarian’s transfer, Berbatov was entering the final year of his contract and was unwilling to sign a new one in order to force Levy’s hand to cash-in on the former Bayer Leverkusen striker. Naturally, Spurs folded and opted to sell at the last minute of the transfer window which, unfortunately, left the club with a lack of strikers leading into the new season.
Modric, on the other hand, only just signed a new contract that isn’t set to expire until 2015, leaving the ball firmly in Spurs’ court. Levy can, therefore, command the highest fee possible should they choose to sell, much like Dynamo Zagreb did prior to his move to Spurs in 2008, when Modric signed a ten-year contract. But, what use is it if a player is refusing to play? Some fans feel that the want-away midfielder should be forced to watch from the stands until he retracts his comments and wants to play for the club again.
Another silly move and if he wants to leave, then Spurs should, ultimately, sell for the highest fee possible. Chelsea are willing to offer as much as £35m, if some media outlets are to be believed, which should be accepted. Levy, although continuously stating he won’t be selling Modric for any price, needs to put his pride to one side and sanction a deal sooner rather than later so replacements can be bought in.
Whether it is Milan Badelj, Miralem Pjanic, Marko Marin or Joao Moutinho, Levy must have learned from the Berbatov saga that leaving it until the last minute to sell a player is never the right move to take especially after the start that Spurs made to that season, before Juande Ramos was ousted and Redknapp came in. After the news this morning, the choice of many is to sell Modric especially with nine days of the window remaining, leaving Spurs with more than ample time to bring in a replacement.
One can understand Levy’s stance on the situation and his attempts to stand up for Spurs against other clubs, but it is time to admit defeat in this saga, unfortunately. The Modric fiasco was always going to be a long-drawn out affair, and regrettably Levy’s ‘matter is now closed’ statement came about two-and-a-half months too early.