The latest entry in the saga involving Chelsea’s attempt to pry away Tottenham forward Luka Modric away from White Hart Lane involves honesty, bitterness, money (of course) and the idea surrounding unhappy players and what is exactly a “big club” in the 2011 version of the Premier League.
As the story stands: Modric, claiming loyalty to the Spurs over the years, has now handed in a transfer request to go to a “big club,” i.e. Chelsea. Don’t forget that Modric signed a £40,000 a week deal with Tottenham a year ago. Spurs boss Harry Redknapp and chairman Daniel Levy are, of course, angered and probably a tad hurt by this, as guys like Modric are what helped Spurs get into the elusive “top six” last year and unquestionably would help the club return to the Champions League in the future on a more consistent basis.
Modric says that he’s been “a loyal sportsman,” playing through injuries and putting in his time. His dream though is to be with a team that can challenge for an English title and a Champions League trophy. Chelsea, realizing that Frank Lampard isn’t going to be around forever (and isn’t going to be a top player for much longer) needs a midfielder who can create chances and set up Fernando Torres, whose goal total for Chelsea since signing has been exactly 2 (we’re counting his recent goal in friendlies). Chelsea turned in a £22 million offer which was turned down and recently bumped that amount to £27 million.
Redknapp admits that losing Modric would “tear Tottenham to pieces.” Modric claims that Levy is breaking a promise that would let Modric go if a big club came calling, has referred to Levy as “arrogant” and has also said that there is an alleged “civil war” within the club between players and management over the whole thing.
On the surface the whole things seems plainly easy yet extremely frustrating. Spurs can’t keep a guy on the team who doesn’t want to be there, yet Modric is one of the reasons why they’ve been so successful as of late. The money they would get if they sold him would be valuable of course, but there is no guarantee that they will get someone of equal value, or if “new signing X” will have the proper chemistry. It’s a true “damned if you do/damned if you don’t” scenario.
What makes all of this so intriguing is the viewpoint of Modric. He signed a long term and valuable contract a year ago but claims that a promise was made that he could split if a “big club” came around. While Tottenham isn’t a “big club,” they certainly seem like a club that is on the rise and could be a constant presence in the top four if they could just keep the stars they have and build for the future. Dynasties are built through a few things, and holding on to valuable assets is amongst the most important factors (along with stellar recruiting and of course, lots and lots of money). Shouldn’t Modric, at 26 years old look at what he has now and think about the fact that he’s a marquee player on a team that contends and could slide right in to the top four? Would he be happy being in the midfield at Chelsea when the club seemingly thinks Lampard has more years left then he actually does?
Modric will probably sign with Chelsea. However, this story (and the Fabregas/Arsenal/Barca one) leads to a weird trend amongst players and could re-establish a trend. If you’re on a middle to higher team, it doesn’t matter if you try to lock in your best guys with long and valuable deals, because if the “bigger clubs” show interest, your best player will go from someone who’s happy to being there to someone who will start looking over the horizon at more scintillating opportunities and will attempt to break that contract, leading the team into turmoil and ruining your chances at building any sort of momentum to have your team be a “big club”.