Finally, almost eighteen-months after transfer rumours first began, Luka Modric has finalised a move away from White Hart Lane and away from a four-season spell at the North London club.
In 2008, a relatively unknown, slight and fragile looking central midfielder turned up from Dinamo Zagreb with the world at his feet.
At the age of 22 and with the record price tag of £16-million, this star-to-be was gambled on by Spurs. Although with him came great promise.
Arriving in August, the Croatian had come off the back of the European Championships where he shone on the biggest stage.
Tottenham had his deal tied up before the tournament and many feel if that was not the case, the London club would have lost him to more powerful players in the European game.
However, his first season was tough, he struggled with the physicality of English football and quickly murmurs began that this slight player would not be able to perform in the toughest league in the world. His goal was simple, to prove the critics wrong.
The arrival of manager Harry Redknapp after the troubled-spell under Juande Ramos lifted everyone around Tottenham’s Chigwell training ground, with no one feeling the benefit of the new boss more than Modric.
The Croatian’s role changed and Redknapp began the deploy him in a more advanced midfield position, the position he enjoyed when he toiled with his opposition at the European Championships just a year before.
He quickly became a favourite at Spurs. Despite his goal contribution not being as high as it could have been; his creative flair tied together the loose knots in a revived and ever improving Tottenham side.
So much so that in 2008, Jamie Redknapp (son of the Spurs manager at the time, Harry) said on Modric: ‘He’s a hell of a player and a manager’s dream, so I am told. He trains like a demon and never complains, will work with and without the ball on the field and can beat a defender with a trick or with a pass. He could get into any team in the top four and he’ll be even better this season.’
Harry Redknapp may not have appreciated his son’s last comment, with bigger clubs starting to notice the rising star. The ‘manager’s dream’ comment would also return to bite him. However, in May 2010 Modric signed a new contract, stating he felt he could achieve everything he wanted to at Spurs.
In the 2010-11 season; the season Spurs debuted in the Champions League, Modric won the Fans’ Player Of The Year in what was arguably his best season at the club. 43 appearances and the majority consistent – by this point a host of top clubs in Europe were admiring him, none more so than cross-city rivals Chelsea.
In the summer of 2011 Chelsea made consecutive bids that were all rejected by Tottenham. The club’s president, Daniel Levy, stated that Tottenham would not sell Modric at any price.
Problems began to surround the ‘manager’s dream’ who was not scarred to express his desire to leave the club, claiming he had a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ with Daniel Levy, a promise that his Chairman would entertain offers. Speculation continued into the start of the 2011-12 season to the point when even manager Harry Redknapp was sure the Croatian would be leaving the club.
In his press conference last summer, Redknapp said: ‘I’ve always worked under the belief that if a player doesn’t want to be at the club, it’s best to move him on.’ Refusing to play, refusing to train, this usually very professional character was pushing as hard as possible for a move. A move he would have to wait for.
He returned to the side in September and his professionalism remained. Spurs suffered defeats in their first two games without Modric, only to go on an unbeaten run that at one point put them in title contention.
A great first half of the season dipped dramatically when the club was surrounded by the speculation that their manager would be leaving the club. The same manager that had fought so hard to retain the services of his central-talisman.
Tottenham finished fourth in the league but missed out on a Champions League spot due to home-rivals Chelsea winning the tournament and subsequently receiving the final English qualifying place.
A short summer break followed. Made shorter by the immediate speculation that Modric would this time leave the club. Made longer by the stalling of the Tottenham board and the absence of the Croatian from the club’s pre-season tour. But this time, he had to go.
With four days left in the transfer market, the deal that sends Luka Modric to Real Madrid has been finalised. With the move in the region of 33-million-euro’s, Spurs have doubled their money on the midfielder. Again, shrewd business from Levy. The Chairman could have accepted £40-million a year ago from Chelsea but that would have meant giving one of the leagues finest players to their London-rivals.
Along with the deal, Madrid and Tottenham have signed a ‘partnership agreement’ with the view that the club can enjoy a healthy relationship over player’s, coaches and commercial aspects of the football clubs.
How far this will benefit Spurs remains to be seen, but what is certain is that Andre Villas-Boas’ transfer budget has been bolstered considerably going into the last few days of the transfer market.
Panic buying or contingency plans being put-into-place? Expect new in-takes at White Hart Lane this week.
Written by Alfie Long
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