Tottenham Hotspurs continue to play hardball insisting Luka Modric will not be going to Chelsea. But can it help a club to keep a player who’s ‘had his head turned’?
For the last few weeks I’ve been saying Spurs should get shot of Luka Modric. If he wants to leave let him, you can’t turn a players head back. But that was when I thought it was a done deal. Now Harry is singing from the same hymn sheet as Levy and insisting the Croat’s staying and Redknapp has the skills to convince Modders that White Hart Lane is still the best place for him.
Despite all the public pronouncements saying Luka will definitely be a Spurs player (at least until January), with a week left until the transfer window slams shut anything could happen. But assuming the power is still with Tottenham what should they do? Other clubs have held on to their prize assets despite a player making noises about leaving with varying degrees of success but what’s the point of delaying the inevitable?
Naysayer will look at how Gareth Barry was forced to stay at Villa for an extra year when Liverpool came in for him. During that time his relationship with the club completely broke down and he was out the door to a team that finished below Villa when the season was over. Granted that team is now one of the dominant forces in the Premier League but at the time all Man City had was money. Adebayor and Joleon Lescott were the other ‘big name’ signings and Mark Hughes had just been handed the reigns. This was at a time when Villa were Champions League hopefuls and spent long stretches of the season in the top four. Despite all that after Martin O’Neill and Villa scuppered his move to Liverpool he left a club where he’d been for 10 years to the first side that met his valuation.
Then there’s the curious case of Cesc Fabregas. Arsenal fans may look at his protracted sale as the slowest plaster removal in Premier League history. During the three season transfer saga Arsenal didn’t pick up any silverware and Cesc’s valuation didn’t rise or fall sharply from the £30 million mark give or take a couple of million here or the waiving of some other payment there. But it did get Arsenal another three years of service from a world-class player and a totem for the rest of this developing squad to look up to. That extra time allowed the players around him to grow up and heralded the maturity of Wilshire and Ramsey. A benefit that’s hard to quantify.
While Luka is still at the club it keeps the hope alive that he’ll stay longer.
A clearer example of the benefits of holding onto a player longer than he wants to stay at your club is Cristiano Ronaldo’s epic transfer to Real Madrid. The Spanish giants came in for Ronny in 2007, the Portuguese really wanted to move in 2008 then finally left a year later. From the time he’d originally ‘had his head turned’ to the time he left for the Bernabeu he and United won the Champions League, picked up a runners up medal and bagged three Premier League titles.
In these cases although the player eventually moved it wasn’t too detrimental to the clubs. Villa probably faired worse receiving around £5 million less than they would have if they sold Barry when he first wanted to leave but maintained their league position that only started to deteriorate when they lost their manager. The medium term affect on Arsenal is yet to be seen but they had Cesc on hand to help educate a new crop which – if you listen to Jack Wilshere – has an effect that you can’t calculate in pound signs. As for Man United they kept a player who was integral in winning trophies.
The above assumes it’s just a matter of time until the player will leave but there’s a Scouser who’s plight should encourage Spurs fans. Steven Gerrard. He wanted to leave for Chelsea in 2004 when Houllier left Liverpool. The next year with Benitez at the helm he won the European Cup. Despite this he still wanted to do one, handed in a transfer request and was almost off to collect trophies with Jose Mourinho down at Stamford Bridge. Again he was convinced to give Merseyside another chance and went on to have the 2006 FA Cup final named after, was a Premier and Champions League runner up and hasn’t made a peep about moving on since. Now he stands in the crowd, is rightfully considered a Liverpool legend and will no doubt have a statue made for him.
Looking at these examples I’ve changed my mind. As long as he still tries for us keeping Modric – even for just one more season – is worth it. Firstly his influence on bringing on Tottenham’s young midfielders in training will improve them and should soften the blow for his departure. Plus there’s a chance Modders can help us capture a trophy, obviously not the Champions League like in Ronaldo’s case but we have as good a chance as anyone of bagging one or more of the three cups on offer.
Perhaps most importantly while Luka is still at the club it keeps the hope alive that he’ll stay longer. If the football gods smile on us and we do manage a special season and qualify for the Champions League Modric may feel he can achieve his ambitions with Spurs. If he’s still a Hotspur in a few seasons time and when he’s not playing is spotted in the Paxton End with the rest of the fans all the nonsense from this summer will be long forgotten. Hopefully the chairman has learnt from the mistakes of the Berbatov transfer when we sacrificed bringing in a replacement for an extra few million quid. Once he KNOWS Modric is going to leave get that deal done, but if he feels the club can convince Luka to stay, even for a little while, these examples show it’s worth a go.
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