Should Spurs now cave in and accept Luka Modric’s departure to Chelsea?
This week the future of Luka Modric is as unclear as it has ever been, and confusion reigns around the Croatian playmaker.
Yesterday it was reported that the Croatian has handed in a written transfer request, but that has not been confirmed.
Spurs have felt no need to respond because, as Redknapp said: “We know he wants to leave and whether he writes it down on a piece of paper doesn’t really make any difference to our stance.”
It would, however, provide further evidence of Modric’s increasing desperation because, in his first interview almost exactly a month ago, he stated: “I won’t hand in a transfer request, no. That would be disrespectful.”
The saga will run and run, but one thing is for sure. The wantaway midfielder has well and truly ruined his plan of leaving Tottenham “in a good way, a friendly way”, as he said last month.
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It was always a na�ve dream - the 25-year-old was never going to be allowed to declare his love for Chelsea, dump Spurs and make an amicable departure, waving cheerily out of the rear window like a newly-wed as he set off for his new life at Stamford Bridge.
Now, having found the exit blocked by an uncompromising Daniel Levy, Modric is far less interested in “staying friends” with the Lilywhites. He wants out, and the language changed in his explosive latest interview.
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“I have to say I’m really disappointed in Mr Levy’s attitude towards me. He was cold and in an arrogant way made it clear that he was not interested in anything I had to say,” said Modric, after last week’s meeting.
“For me, his attitude only reinforced my view that I’m not making a mistake in my decision to move on.
“I haven’t even thought about what would happen if Mr Levy does not let me go, that decision couldn’t be good for anyone. I feel that in the end he will understand the situation and reach an amicable agreement.”
Suddenly, it is hard to ignore the parellels with Dimitar Berbatov’s exit in 2008, when the Bulgarian effectively went on strike to force a move to Manchester United.
With Redknapp continuing to praise Modric’s professionalism, the Croatian may not go to such an extreme, but there is plenty of time for him to become an increasingly disruptive influence – if he is not already.
His admission that he has not even considered a scenario where he stays at Spurs is certainly ominous – but if the Croatian is expecting Levy to cave in he is likely to be disappointed.
It appears that the chairman also remembers the Berbatov saga, and has resolved to handle things very differently this time.
As Modric reports: “He threatened me that if I don’t follow what the club stands for, he will send me to the bench or the stands and also mentioned the option of a transfer to a smaller club.”
While that account casts Levy is a fairly unfavourable light, it certainly tallies with the chairman’s robust stance on unsolicited bids this summer.
While Levy may have underestimated Modric’s desire to leave Tottenham, it seems that everyone is underestimating the chairman.
Once bullied into selling his best player to Manchester United, he is now being painted as the bully.
Despite Levy’s belligerent ‘no-negotiation’ stance, a large proportion of Spurs fans believe that it is only a matter of time before the Croatian is sold, because it is notoriously difficult to hold onto unhappy players.
Rafael van der Vaart admitted as much last week and Redknapp said on Monday that Chelsea’s offer “must make it very difficult for him [Modric] and I understand where he’s coming from a little bit with it”.
These days, player power generally wins, and Spurs fans have become used to losing their stars whenever the bigger clubs have come calling. So why should now be any different?
The answer is that Levy has never been this forceful before. As Redknapp said recently, the chairman has put his reputation on the line, and he continues to do so in every public statement – he cannot back down.
On top of that, it is hard to see which part of the Modric saga might have blindsided Levy, forcing him into the embarrassing U-turn which would turn him into a laughing stock.
Is he surprised that Chelsea have bid? Is he surprised that Modric is being offered a pay hike from a richer club? Is he shocked that Modric would like more money and fancies playing for a ‘bigger club’?
Surely not, on all three counts – partly because the pair discussed this very scenario when Modric signed his six-year contract last year.
This is the main reason for the venom in this spat – the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ that Levy would allow his player to further his ambitions elsewhere if the opportunity came along.
Spurs deny such a deal and, in any case, there is no clause in his contract – a major oversight for a player who was signing a six-year deal with a club he was apparently planning to leave.
Either way, Levy would have expected this very scenario. He was ready for war at the end of the season and, while he cannot control the rumour mill, he can certainly keep rejecting offers – which is exactly what he is doing.
The situation may be messy and unedifying, but there is a principle at stake – and a statement about Spurs’ ambition.
Levy’s message to Modric has been strong and clear: I would rather let you rot in the stands for five years than sell you to Chelsea.
The resulting message to the Spurs fans is equally forceful: Forget Berbatov, things are different now. We no longer weaken ourselves to strengthen our rivals. This is a new age, and our days as a selling club are over.
It is impossible to back down now, no matter how much Chelsea offer, and no matter how much Modric whines – otherwise Levy and Tottenham will lose a great deal more than one player.
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs
Your views: Top Tweets
@Clamour_Kid: Time to cash in while the value is high. Better to have �40m in the bank than sat in detention in the stands. Sell him!
@xActionMaNx: It’s not about money it’s principle. Spurs let Luka go and we’ll be branded a selling club forever more. We must make a stand
@robb_hobbs: Sell him for �30 mill and get Sturridge thrown in. Do it now, spend the money, our midfield is strong, we will be fine...
@spursblogger: keep him at all costs. Ludicrous to cave in to the slightest pressure. Watershed season, keep our best man and go for glory
@spursfan987: spurs should take a stand with luka. A 6 year contract puts us in the driving seat and we shouldn’t capitulate to chelsea
@mofo66: they should just slap a �50m price tag on his head. If he goes it’s good business and if he stays spurs will be happy
@DannyBoy9791: levy should just name his price whatever it may be, 45-50m. Let chelski and modders know exactly what it’s gonna take.
@maccamoo74: they should sell him. This posturing and threats from levy fools no one. Sell him and move on.
@MonkeyHammer70: sell for 30mill. Buy Aguero with the money, invest a further 7m in someone like parker to shore up midfield. Winning team
@jonnytem: Keep him until Jan window. If CL realistic, keep him. If not, allow him to leave for the right price with our blessing
@GeeMacGee: Need to not sell our best plyers. And certainly not 2 a rival. Strengthens them, weakens us. Hold on to him, set an example.