Luka Modric looks set to begin contract negotiations in the coming days over a new deal which will reportedly double his £40,000-a-week wages and make the Croat Tottenham Hotspur’s highest-paid player. That Modric will get a new deal following Spurs’ refusal to sell him in the summer is no surprise. It will, however, set a rather dangerous precedent in the club’s future handling of its more highly-paid players.
Harry Redknapp has a very good point when he points out that, in the grand scheme of the 21st-century football pay-scale, Modric is worth more to Spurs than he is currently being paid. Like it or loathe it, a Premier League top-six team’s star player – and on his performances since the transfer window closed, that is Modric – is worth more than £40,000-a-week.
Modric has been sensational in recent weeks, revelling in Redknapp’s decision to use him, not Rafael van der Vaart, at the fulcrum of a revived 4-4-2 formation which plays to Modric’s creativity and link play. The results – a 4-0 win over Liverpool, controlling showings against Wolves and Wigan, and perhaps most importantly a similarly revitalised van der Vaart – have been promising indeed. Daniel Levy has been vindicated over his refusal to wilt under Chelsea’s pressure, and Modric has proven his worth to Spurs, hence the talks of a new contract.
Thing is, though, there are still five years to run on his current one.
Unfortunately, the summer’s shenanigans have worked in Modric’s favour, and this sets an incredibly dangerous precedent at White Hart Lane. The club’s other star players – the likes of van der Vaart, Jermain Defoe, Gareth Bale and Scott Parker – have had their pay structure dictated in recent years by a clause in Robbie Keane’s contract which tethered his wage to the club’s highest earner (i.e. whatever the club paid in wages for their highest-paid player, they had to pay Keane the same).
With the Irishman’s departure this summer, Spurs have been released from that burden and their new-found relative economic freedom will allow them to make Modric an offer of around £80,000. It will be the third deal he has signed in three years at the club, despite having already accepted two six-year contracts.
But this new lease of life in the bank balance could have very serious repercussions all through the rest of the squad. Other key players will inevitably believe that if Modric is getting his wages doubled, then surely they too are in line for a raise. The fallout of one contract could lead to the signing of several others, and the money saved with the departures of Keane, Peter Crouch and Jermaine Jenas this summer will disappear very quickly.
Above and beyond that, though, Modric’s actions may not be that well received among the squad as a whole. They already have to contend with the seasonal mood-swings of Roman Pavlyuchenko, who demands a move back to Russia at least once a year, and it is highly unlikely that the entire group will ignore the obvious implication hidden in Modric’s actions over the summer – he wanted to move because he wants to win trophies, and does not believe Spurs have a squad capable of doing that.
Harry Redknapp has been the main voice behind Modric getting a new contract, but he may have rather more trouble on his plate than anticipated if and when the deal does get done.
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