Why Spurs chairman cannot afford to sell Modric – at any price

Croatian is key to Tottenham’s chances of progression

The Luka Modric saga has provoked plenty of debate since Chelsea’s �22million bid last week, but Harry Redknapp hit the nail on the head on Saturday.

“The chairman has made a statement. He can’t backtrack on that,” said the Tottenham manager.

“Daniel has made that statement – he can’t come out and suddenly sell him. Everyone will say, ‘What’s the use of listening to what he says?’ He can’t sell him. He’s said he’s not going to sell him and that’s good enough for me.

“Daniel and Joe Lewis own the club. They’re not selling Luka – end of story, as far as I’m concerned.”

Of course, Redknapp will know that this is not the end of the story at all.

And, contrary to the pointed end of Levy’s statement – “We now consider this matter closed” – the Modric saga is likely to continue throughout the summer.

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Chelsea’s owner Roman Abramovich is used to getting his way, Manchester United have yet to show their hand and, if the rumours that Manchester City are interested prove to be correct, then Spurs are likely to receive a bid way above �22m.

Like it or not, Tottenham have one of Europe’s hottest properties in their ranks, and their richer rivals have learned from experience that money talks – it’s just a question of how much.

With Redknapp branding Chelsea’s �22m offer “ridiculous”, the debate over Modric’s true value has begun, and over the last week it has generally been accepted that he is worth in excess of �30m.

While Tottenham’s manager maintains that Modric is “irreplaceable”, a number of fans admit that they would be happy to see him go if Levy’s belligerence was tested with a monstrous offer between �35m and �40m.

Of course, these discussions will go on and on. However, they are ultimately pointless because, as Redknapp has said, Levy cannot sell Modric this summer even if he wanted to – not even for �80m.

The chairman’s statement was unequivocal: “I wish to make it absolutely clear, as I have said previously, that none of our key players will be sold this summer,” he wrote.

“In respect of Luka Modric, we are not prepared to sell, at any price, to Chelsea or any other club.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, let me reiterate that we shall not enter into any negotiations whatsoever, with any club, regarding Luka. We now consider this matter closed.”

The chairman’s statement reiterated what he and Redknapp have been saying for months – that Tottenham are no longer a selling club – and it provided no wriggle-room whatsoever: “We are not prepared to sell, at any price.”

Levy has pinned his colours to the mast and drawn a line in the sand, making it clear that, having finally turned their Champions League dream into a reality, Spurs are on the up, and they won’t be turning back.

Fans who debate Modric’s value, or suggest that the chairman’s stance is a ploy to drive the price up, miss the point – that this tale is much bigger than the Croatian, that a principle is at stake, and that Levy has put his reputation on the line.

Should he change his mind, it will destroy his credibility, with his own fans and with other clubs - which would be a major problem given that one of his primary roles is negotiatiating the buying and selling of players.

Any similarly hard-line statements in future would be greeted with derision, and treated accordingly by rival teams who have learned to ignore his bold, empty words.

On the other hand, if Levy holds onto Modric, it will reinforce Spurs’ ambitions, their status among the new top six and their refusal to keep developing players for their rivals.

There is more at stake this summer than the future of Tottenham’s best player.

There may be a long way to go in this story but, as far as Levy is concerned, the end has already been decided – he simply cannot relent.

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs