So (surprise!) the Luka Modric saga* is far from dead. Although Tottenham Hotspur have been adamant that their prize midfielder will be going nowhere, at any price, I don't think too many people took that particularly seriously on account of simple economics. On top of that, the player himself was reported to desire a switch to a bigger team (i.e. Chelsea), and we hadn't heard much about that lately, either. Until now, anyway...
*As an aside, I'm wracking my brain to come up with an acceptable synonym for 'saga' here since the word is starting to grate in a rather annoying way, but as I
am an illiterate moron was trained as an engineer I'm not very good at the whole 'writing' business. Help?
Modric has been quoted in Zagreb-based newspaper Sportske Novosti as saying some, well, rather inflamatory things. I'd imagine that this has all been badly translated and so don't read too much into the tone, but the words are particularly strong - he wants to come to Chelsea and he's not happy with Tottenham for refusing to allow the deal to go through:
I haven't thought about [staying] at all because [not letting me go] would definitely not be good for anyone. I have already told the chairman that last summer he said we would find a mutually satisfactory agreement if a club like Chelsea came in. I hope that eventually he will understand the situation and that we will reach an agreement and go our separate ways in an appropriate manner.
A lot has been published in the press about the meeting with Levy, who gave the public a twisted account of what happened. I must say that I am genuinely disappointed about what Levy said to me. He didn't care about what I was telling him. It all only convinced me further that I was right to consider moving on to another club.
I reminded the chairman of our gentleman's agreement when we were in Dubrovnik last summer and I agreed a contract extension with Tottenham. At that time, I had an open chat with Levy - that if a bigger club came in with a concrete offer, we would consider it and agree the best solution for all concerned.
The chairman said, 'Okay, we'll sit and talk [about any offers]'. Now Levy doesn't want to talk to me and said there is no possibility that I can leave Spurs. He threatened me - he said if I didn't accept the club's stance, they would make me sit on the bench or in the stands.
-Luka Modric. Source: Sportske Novosti (via ESPN Soccernet).
There are a few things to note here. One: This is a significant statement, stronger than (for example) anything that Cesc Fabregas has ever said about Barcelona. Modric wants to come, and he wants to come badly enough to alienate his own team in the process. Essentially, he's used the nuclear option with that statement and may well have wrecked any opportunity for a quiet end to all this, but it's also made a transfer significantly more likely and given Chelsea massive negotiating power. Bad news for Spurs, good news for us. I'd put good money down on Modric joining the club before the month is out.
The other thing to note is that neither team looks particularly good here. Chelsea, obviously, are deliberately destabilising a player's relationship with his club, which is difficult to defend as ethical behaviour. Much like with Fernando Torres earlier this year, the Blues deliberately leaked a bid for a player who can't achieve what he wants with the team he's currently playing for (and I do say that with all due respect for Tottenham and Liverpool). It's predatory, and it's not particularly becoming. Obviously, I'm willing to forgive because I quite like the idea of bringing in Modric for less than £25M, but still.
Spurs, on the other hand - and Levy in particular - look like absolute idiots. The way to have handled the situation was to ascertain how serious Modric was about leaving and then, once it was confirmed he wanted out, tell him that they'd accommodate his request but they'd need him to stay quiet in order to maintain a strong negotiating position. Instead, they chose to fight it publicly (not to mention belittle him and make threats), and that leaves them in severe danger of losing their best player without getting anything near market value for him.
The situation as it stands clearly favours Chelsea. It looks as though we can probably acquire Modric for a price far closer to what he's worth to us (vs. the far higher cost that Tottenham would like), and even if you don't think he's a perfect fit on the team, you have to be able to pounce on this sort of thing when you get the chance.
One wonders where exactly Manchester United are in this though.