As Daniel Levy and Tottenham Hotspur firmly draw up their battle lines following Luka Modric’s declaration of war, this summer now has the capacity to be a bloody one for the North London club.
Because although the Croatian’s behavior has been nothing short of reprehensible in recent weeks, Spurs’ formidable chairman must remember the bigger picture as he seeks to squeeze every penny out of his star midfielder. The battle is not worth winning if it ultimately costs Tottenham Hotspur the war.
The Modric situation seems to have gone awfully sour at the bat of an eyelid at White Hart Lane. In a movement that feels synonymous with the era of player power that we’re currently in, the Croatian has played the ultimate trump card. His refusal to join the rest of his teammates on their pre season tour of the United States has seen Modric finally throw his toys out the pram as he looks to push through a lucrative transfer; Real Madrid are seemingly the favoured destination.
And we’ve seen in recent times, that this sort of tactic usually has the tendency to work nine times out of ten. Unfortunately for Modric, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy isn’t quite like 90% of other Premier League chairman. Trying this sort of stuff with Levy is akin to playing Swingball with a beehive- the odds are, it’s going to come back to bite you on the backside. Levy will not be seen to bend his club over to anyone. Let alone a member of it’s playing staff that signed a six-year deal at the club in 2010.
The talk is that Levy won’t budge bar a £40million bid. For some, even that represents a startling renege on the refusal to sell at all costs stance employed by the club last summer. Levy’s rejection of a bid from Chelsea of the same sort of money, was a battle that the Essex born businessman won. It would seem that the notion of keeping a player that clearly no longer wishes to be at the club for another year, is a step too far.
But for all the praise that Levy quite rightly received last summer for standing up to the big boys, it was ultimately Modric who held all the cards. That may seem like an absurd notion to some. But the toys stayed in the pram.
For all the posturing and flirting with Chelsea in the newspapers, the Croatian kept the dummy in his mouth. If he refused to train and then sought to become a genuinely rotten influence in the Spurs changing room, would he really have still remained at the club? Dimitar Berbatov certainly didn’t. No one knows the answer to the Modric question, but it seems difficult to believe that may have been the case. As we are seeing now, there appears to be no way back for Modric at the football club.
Yet for many supporters, it is the sheer bloody principal and the ideologies that Modric seems to represent, which demand that Levy holds out for his ransom. Why should a player treat the club who took the initial gamble on him and the fans who’ve supported him like this and still get his own way?
The answer isn’t necessarily an easy one to stomach. But Tottenham Hotspur cannot allow this to drag on any longer.
The fact is that Modric cannot stay at the football club. Some will argue that he was happy to stay last year, but the goalposts have moved now. His refusal to train or go on tour is an open slap in the face to the club and the fans, that was absent from the transfer saga last season.
And before the draconian theory of letting him ‘rot in the reserves’ is wheeled out, we must be realistic to the era we live in. Football clubs are businesses and they’re not going to let what they perceive to be a £40million asset massively degrade in value. He must leave.
Although whilst looking to hold out for £40million is a wholly admirable ambition, the reality is very different. Tottenham cannot start a season without securing the team they wish to start with. How many times can this go on? Last year Parker and Adebayor were yet to join as Spurs got drubbed in their opening two matches. The Berbatov saga of 2008 greatly damaged the club and even Rafael van der Vaart’s acquisition was left till deadline day.
Even more painful for Spurs is the role of which Modric plays in their team. He isn’t a fullback and he isn’t a striker. As hard as it may still seem to believe, Modric has been the heartbeat of this team, the metronome. However damaged feelings may be towards him, his contributions as a footballer cannot be skewed. His replacement could be the most important bit of business the club does in years. Leaving it till deadline day to bring whoever that may be could be suicidal.
But further still, the rumored bid for Joao Moutinho as Modric’s replacement has hit a similar hitch. Supposedly, Levy doesn’t fancy paying plus £26million, which is fair enough. Although if a similar battle of the financial wills is set to go on with a Moutinho acquisition as it is with a Modric departure, at this rate, Spurs could be in trouble.
Supporters are loathe to the behavior of Modric and the condescending attitude of Real Madrid hasn’t helped either. But look at the sort of money made on the likes of Vedran Corluka and Niko Kranjcar. Spurs seem to do well out of every bit of transfer business they do. If taking a £3/£4million hit is what it takes to get rid of a rotten player with no future at the club and prevent the team from starting the season without a replacement, then so be it. Are the potential consequences really worth the risk?
It may not be a particularly popular viewpoint. But the football club will always be bigger than the player. Hopefully a PSG like team will cough up the goods and Modric will be happy to seek a compromise. But the clock is ticking. Tottenham are about to embark on a new, exciting era- optimism is fresh and supporters are ready.
But they don’t need this. Modric must go and his replacement must be brought in rapidly. Seek a compromise with Madrid and swallow the bitter pill. It might not feel good now, but Spurs can ultimately be the winners six months down the track.
How do you see the Luka Modric saga? Is Levy right to demand £40million for Luka Modric or could such a stance end up in trouble for all parties involved? Let me know exactly what you think, get involved in the Spurs talk on Twitter- follow @samuel_antrobus and bat me your views