As the sand ebbs ever further away in the Luka Modric hourglass, it feels as if it’s time for Spurs fans to start asking themselves some uncomfortable questions. Although the likeliness is that the Croatian will eventually get his transfer away from White Hart Lane, the impossibility of the midfielder staying at White Hart Lane doesn’t seem quite so absurd after all.
For all debate over his behavior, his worth and his transfer fee is but academic. If Daniel Levy won’t settle for anything less than £40million, then Modric simply will not leave. And for the first time this summer, that feels like it could be a serious reality.
It’s always difficult to pre-empt a transfer saga that is becoming as drawn out as Modric’s is at White Hart Lane, but the battle lines that have been drawn this summer are clear for all to see. Circumstance has changed at White Hart Lane over the last twelve months, but Modric’s price tag seemingly hasn’t. Levy’s hardline stance over Modric has softened and the Croatian will now be let go should the right offer come in- one that will have to match the £40million that Chelsea offered on deadline day last summer.
But the chairman’s willingness to sell isn’t the only thing that’s differed from events last term. Modric voiced his intentions to depart in 2011, but things stayed civil and the toys stayed in the pram. Regardless of his murmurings to media back in his native Croatia, the midfielder strayed away from all out warfare. He got his head down and contributed, to the main part, another great season for Harry Redknapp’s side.
This summer, however, Modric has adopted the style of the archetypal football militant. Uncomfortable flirtations with other clubs has turned into bitter disdain for his current one, with his failure to join the rest of the team on their pre season trip to the United States. The art of going AWOL on a football club can be treated as something of a trump card in the era of ‘player power’ that we are now said to be under. By refusing to train and becoming a perceived toxic presence in the dressing room, more than the odd Premier League player have got their wishes.
Unfortunately though, Daniel Levy doesn’t seem to have read the rules. Modric’s trick would go down like a lead balloon at any point of pre season, but the timing of it this summer has really infuriated the Spurs hierarchy. It’s been said that Levy has seen red over Modric’s performance co-in siding with the club’s promotional drive in the United States. Tottenham have just entered the first of their five year, £50millon deal with Under Armour and their shirt sponsor, Autonomy, is a wholly owned subsidiary of another American company, Hewlett-Packard.
The notion that Modric’s antics have overshadowed the club’s opportunity to maximize their brand potential, if not damaged it in the home nation of their two flagship sponsors, has supposedly been met with anger and dissapointment. It’s hard to believe that Levy would have ever settled for a penny less than what he thought was best. But any chance of a compromise for both parties has surely been shredded to pieces.
Although if the chairman really is serious about sticking to his £40million valuation, it could leave Spurs supporters facing some difficult realties. Because there really is no guarantee that anyone will pay that much money for the 26-year-old. His talent is unique and his ability is mercurial, but even then, his price tag really is pushing the boundaries of reality- even in today’s market. Real Madrid believe his value is lowered as a result of his antics but the length of his contract begs to differ. Levy will view Modric as an asset and with four years left to run, the ball is firmly in his court.
But where does that realistically leave the situation? There’s still time left to make a deal, but it feels hard to believe that Levy can leave it any longer. The club have been burnt in the past by leaving their transfer dealings too late and the it seems impossible to believe that Modric’s fate will be left till deadline day.
An offer from PSG is said to be waiting in the wings, but it seems hard to envisage Modric playing in Ligue One and maybe there is a hint of that in his current behavior. The Croatian hasn’t completely burnt his bridges in N17 and his statements and press releases have been carefully worded.
Supporters however, aren’t likely to give a monkeys how Modric has gone about it. The fact is that a player whom has been backed to the hilt at White Hart Lane and forgiven after his flirtations with Chelsea last year, has refused to go on tour and in essence refused to play for the club. Lightning has struck twice and not all fans will be particularly warming to him should he stay. But the reality is that it’s not inconceivable he’ll be turning out wearing the cockerel next term.
So can supporters hypothetically forgive him? It’s a question that doesn’t have a definitive answer. The relationship with Modric felt sterile towards the beginning of last term, but affection gradually grew as time went on. Football is fickle by nature and the truth is that should Modric produce the goods on the pitch, memories will always become a little more selective. As macabre as it may sound, there was a begrudging respect in the way the Croatian went about last season- no artificial affection, no fake badge kissing to save his skin; he just got his head down and got on with it.
Then again, this was the same man who only a season before he first tried to renege, said: “I have no interest in going anywhere…I feel I can continue to improve and go on to achieve everything I want to at Spurs.” This was the day he signed a six-year contract with a rumoured, highly lucrative signing on fee. Modric took the carrot and has probably paid for it as a result. But it’s academic now.
The Modric situation isn’t easy for anyone and if he does stay, then Levy is dropping supporters into something of a situation. There will always be those who applaud good football at White Hart Lane, but Modric could expect a tough few weeks back. Then again, should the Croatian issue a grovelling apology and nail a winning volley against Arsenal, then it’s hard to gauge anything but forgiveness. Football is a fickle sport and we could be about to see the ultimate test.
Whatever happens, Luka Modric is a wonderful footballer and matches aren’t won or lost by your character off the pitch. But a bitter taste is currently residing in the mouth of Spurs fans. If does stay, he will have to instantly start doing the business. Otherwise, the bitter taste could run a hell of a lot deeper.
Could you see yourself chanting Luka Modric at White Hart Lane next season if he stays? Does forgiveness come easy or is this simply too difficult to forget? Tell me how you feel about the Croatian on Twitter: follow @samuel_antrobus and tell me how you see it.