As the summer transfer window slowly rumbles on, there’s little surprise that the predominant story from a Spurs perspective, for the second year running, is the fate of Luka Modric. Last year, he went bleating to the media; this year, he’s bypassed them all together, instead opting to skip training and fail to show for Spurs’ pre-season tour of America. Unsurprisingly, hefty fines have followed, and it’s really hard to see what Modric is hoping to gain from the whole episode – if he truly believes that it’s likely to force a quicker move away from the club, you have to feel for his sheer naivety.
It’s almost a shame that Modric is putting on such a petulant show, because in terms of his time at Tottenham, he had the potential to be remembered for much more than amateur dramatics. Whilst Spurs may not have won anything during his time at the club, he’s been a part of the team that has pushed Spurs from also-rans to genuine top four contenders, and under Redknapp, the team was effectively built around his passing ability. This was never more obvious than during his absence – even last season, after the Chelsea saga, whenever he was missing from the team through injury performances often suffered. He was an integral part of the team that stormed unexpectedly to the Champions League quarter finals in the 2010/11 season, and were it not for the obvious disdain with which he holds the club, his playing ability might have seen him leaving held in higher regard.
You only have to look to his send off from Dinamo Zagreb, whom he played for for 5 years before joining Spurs in 2008, to gain a glimpse of what could have been for Modric. There, after his last home game for the club before his move, he was given a standing ovation from the supporters, leaving the pitch to a sea of supportive banners. Even the thought of any such outpouring of gratitude towards Modric from Spurs fans is laughable, but it’s solely down to the way he’s conducted himself whilst at the club. He might have been the fan’s player of the year in the 2010/11 season, but any good will from the fans has long since evaporated due to his actions off the pitch. The contrast between the newly retired King and the want-away Croatian couldn’t be greater: King, the model professional, the one-club-man, juxtaposed against Modric, casting himself as a prisoner of the contract he signed with his own hand.
You get the sneaking suspicion that poor old Luka might not be the sharpest tool in the box. How exactly he thinks that refusing to co-operate with his current employers will endear him to his prospective new ones is a mystery, and more’s the point, Spurs haven’t even point blank refused to sell him as they did last summer. This time around, Daniel Levy has apparently been relatively open to selling Modric – provided that the price is right. Levy and Spurs can’t help it if Real Madrid or PSG are unwilling to meet the valuation of £40 million; at any rate, the way PSG have been splashing the cash this summer, you’d think they’d jump at that price. Going on strike at Tottenham won’t help Modric’s cause one bit, because it’s not a reluctance to sell that stands in his way, and he’s only making life more difficult for himself if suddenly his suiting clubs lose interest, as happened last summer.
The ultimate stupidity of it is that Modric is imprisoned by his own word. Footballers, of course, are rarely held for the duration of their contracts these days, but the signing of a six-year contract back in 2010 is almost certainly up there in Luka’s top ten regrets. Not that he mentioned it when putting pen to paper – merely a year before his flirtations with Chelsea, he happily stated “I have no interest in going anywhere – I feel I can continue to improve and go on to achieve everything I want to at Spurs”.
The good news for Spurs is that they can continue to improve and achieve everything they want without Luka Modric. If, as with last season, he finds himself still at the club at the conclusion of the transfer window, then perhaps he may still find a role to play; however, now it’s time the club cast him aside with the same indifference he’s exhibited, and find a player to take over his role whether he departs or not. After his pitiful manoeuvring, I’m not sure there’d be too much sympathy if he found himself slouched on the Tottenham bench for the majority of next season.
On Twitter: @AEFSpurs.