“We want to keep him, we need to keep him. We love Luka – he’s a fantastic player.”
At first glance you might assume that I’ve plucked this quote from a besotted fan declaring his love for Modric on an online forum, when it actually emerged from the mouth of Harry Redknapp. High praise indeed from his manager in what appears to be the latest attempt to convince the Croatian playmaker that his future lies in North London.
Modric is perhaps a touch fortunate that he remains idolised on the stands at White Hart Lane given his repeated attempts to engineer a move away. Last summer’s transfer saga was unsurprisingly another messy affair with failed deadline day bids and broken gentleman’s agreements coupled with the perception that ‘his head was not in the right place’. In spite of this, Modric re-established himself in the heart of the Spurs midfield and has continued to impress with a series of eye-catching displays. As the season draws to a close Modric will no doubt be at the centre of many transfer rumours but it remains to be seen whether the same motivations for leaving are still racing through his mind.
Unfortunately for the football purists in this world Modric appears eager to improve his pay packet. Much like their London rivals Arsenal, Spurs operate under a strict wage structure that perhaps prevents them from attracting the very best talent. However, can any of us really sit here on our high horse and claim we wouldn’t join a rival company if they presented us with a large pile of money. As Redknapp said,“if someone is going to offer £200,000 a week it could probably turn his head.”
Speaking of Harry, reports have indicated that it will be his next career move that could impact Modric’s decision to remain at the club. The pair clearly share a mutual respect for one another that he may struggle to replicate elsewhere. A recent article in the press claimed that Modric had his pen hovering over a new deal that would make him the highest paid player (in the club’s history) on around £100,000-a-week – but he will wait until the end of the season in anticipation of Redknapp’s departure into the arms of the FA.
Modric’s main admirers last year were Chelsea, who without doubt look a far less attractive destination this time round. A big question mark still resides over who will achieve Champions League qualification, with Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and even Newcastle fighting it out for the two remaining places. Should Tottenham fail to finish in the top four then not only will they inevitably lose Modric but they will also struggle to attract a worthy replacement.
Another team reportedly flirting with the idea of approaching Luka Modric at the transfer tavern are Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson appears to have dropped his interest in Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder and could envisage Modric as the long-term successor to Paul Scholes. However, Modric need only cast his eye over to former team-mate Dimitar Berbatov to witness the sensational decline of a player who once bossed proceedings at the Lane. Michael Carrick is another player to have made the switch from London to Manchester and despite enjoying success, I feel Ferguson stifled the England midfielder’s creativity as he sought to crowbar him into his midfield.
Luka Modric could also be the next expensive scalp for Manchester City after Roberto Mancini declared him “an outstanding footballer, definitely one of the best in the Premier League.” There no doubting the appeal of joining a club who are genuine title contenders but would he still be able to maintain the same level of first-team football at Eastlands? Samir Nasri has struggled to infiltrate his way into Mancini’s imposing midfield since his ‘similar’ high-profile move from Arsenal.
With Euro 2012 rapidly approaching at least Modric doesn’t have to worry about his place in the national side. At the core of the team, Modric thrives on his role as the puppet master, pulling the strings in each attacking move. His head coach Slaven Bilić has offered his views on the whole transfer debate claiming, “I have spoken with Luka and I will respect whatever he decides to do.” Bilić does seem keen for Modric to remain at the club though adding, “Everyone knows huge clubs are interested in Luka but what I said was he should not forget how big Tottenham are.”
Spurs fans may fear that a series of impressive performances in Poland and Ukraine this summer will attract even more potential suitors but this will also help drive up his valuation, and with Daniel Levy at the helm, supporters can rest assured that he won’t be going on the cheap.
In summary, Tottenham’s season hangs on a knife-edge, qualify for the Champions League and everything is rosy. Failure to do so will leave many shifting uncomfortably in their deckchairs this summer, awaiting the news that the departure of Modric has signalled a mass exodus at White Hart Lane.
Join me on Twitter @theunusedsub where you can perhaps suggest a few players for me to have alongside Modric in my Euro 2012 dream team