Every summer in the transfer window the news pipeline gets flooded with transfer speculation, rumors and big signings. When the drama surrounds your team’s chance at making a big name signing or potentially losing its key player, blood pressures rise in the hearts of fans. The anxiety of what could happen to your team is as nerve racking as watching the final moments in a penalty kick shootout. For Tottenham Hotspur fans this summer, it’s been a very frustrating summer.
We all remember the drama in January when Liverpool’s Fernando Torres forced a transfer move to Chelsea, later proclaiming, “The target for every footballer is to play at one of the top level clubs in the world.” This summer is no different with Tottenham Hotspur’s star Luka Modric. He recently handed in a transfer request to initiate a “dream” move to Chelsea. His comments mirror Torres’: “Chelsea is a club that all players dream of joining.”
Of course, these types of comments and moves are nothing new in the Premier League. Top players are always trying to move up the Premier League hierarchy. What is different about these players’ requests is that they were in long-term contracts and their teams had a lot of potential of offering what they wanted. Clubs that wallow in the bottom half of the EPL table year in and year out don’t have much incentive or the finances to keep their star players at all costs. These clubs are willing to part with their players if it helps them balance the books or can help them fund more affordable talent. Securing Champion League football is not on their immediate horizon, so selling a top player for a big profit makes sense. But what about the teams that do have a realistic chance at gatecrashing the top four? How should they respond to selling key players when a top club comes knocking with big money offers?
Tottenham Hotspur is a team in this situation, having consistently finished in the top quarter of the table and actually breaking into the top four last year.
With a disappointing run at the end of this season they failed to secure Champions League football and now top clubs are coming to poach their team of its top players. What is interesting about the transfer speculation surrounding Tottenham’s Luka Modric is not the fact that he might leave, its the stand Tottenham is taking to keep him from leaving. From what I have seen, it is uncharacteristic for clubs in the EPL to refuse big money offers when a player is unhappy and wants to leave. Is this because Tottenham truly believe they can get back into the Champions League if they keep Modric out of the hands of teams like Chelsea and Manchester United? According to Harry Redknapp, if you want to be a big club you got to act like one. “Manchester United won’t sell Wayne Rooney, Chelsea won’t go and sell Lampard or Terry and you never hear people talk about them getting sold so why should we sell Luka Modric? If we sell Luka we are just a selling club basically,” stated Redknapp. Former Spurs keeper Kasey Keller further supports these thoughts, “I don’t see Manchester City selling their players to rivals. Manchester United don’t do it.
“Maybe Arsenal are a little bit different but their fans are upset about that. If you want to be one of the big boys you have to act like it.”
“Tottenham have to reach that stage. At some point they must make a decision.
“Are they going to honestly and truly compete with these teams or are they just going to hope it all comes together at the right time and challenge for a year or two.” Keller is hoping Tottenham have the ambition. However, the veteran keeper expects Modric to get his way as Tottenham will eventually give in. “They have been in this position for the past 20 or 30 years,” he argued.
“You can’t cut corners and expect to compete at the highest level.
“You can’t sell your top players if you want to compete with teams that don’t.
“History says of course they will sell Modric. He will get mad enough and finally someone will give them a number that they can’t turn down.”
Keller’s analysis rings too true. One only needs to look back to January when Liverpool turned down repeated offers for Torres from Chelsea, stating, “The player is not for sale.” Yet when Torres expressed his unhappiness at Anfield then the club cut a deal. Time will only tell if Modric leaves Tottenham under the same circumstances. Apparently player contracts don’t mean much. If the player is whining and moaning and hands in a piece of paper stating they want to leave then the club will have no choice but to let the player go, even if they have five years to serve on their contract, as is the case with Modric. When Champions League fever sets in, just look around the corner, or in Modric’s case just across town. For managers, owners and club chairmen who do not have millions at their disposal, securing CL football is much more daunting. It’s a tough situation, even when your team has a lot of promise. Selling a key player also opens the floodgates for other players to follow suit as they lose faith in the team.
“Of course we have got to keep Modric and add to him – that’s the key,” added Redknapp. “Unless we improve in the summer then you can’t expect to be in the Champions League.” Redknapp is understandably keen to keep hold of his best players, “We have to keep improving every year because everybody else is going to improve. We just missed out last year, we finished fifth because the four teams in front of us were just a little bit stronger and they are going to get much stronger in the summer.”
Of course, Redknapp and chairman Daniel Levy’s reasons for keeping Luka Modric could all be gamesmanship and cunning tactics to get a huge pay off at the last minute. However, I want to believe that Tottenham’s reason is authentic and wish other clubs would knuckle down and get serious about challenging as well. Without clubs taking this type of stance how is the landscape of the EPL ever going to change?
I hope Tottenham keep Luka Modric, if only for the fact that they will stand up to the establishment and try to beat the big clubs at their own game. Of course it may be easier to just advertize around the world, “Big daddy billionaire wanted”, as disposable income seems to be the only proven way to success.
With that said, what do you think of Tottenham’s stance? Will holding onto their players give them a better chance? Is Harry Redknapp correct when he says, “If you want to be a big club your got to act like one.” If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, is it a duck?