Updated: May 10
Depressing news from this week’s Spurs Show podcast in which guest Mike Easom said Spurs were entertaining an offer for Luka Modric. Usually transfer rumour tittle tattle can be taken or left, but Rob has always seemed an on-the-level guy so there could well be substance here. So in case there is, I just want to do my tiny bit to try and crank up the pressure on the club not to sell, and on the player not to go. Because Modric is the beating heart of the current Spurs side.
In this season’s bumper selection of great performances, Modric has been the most consistent and influential player. Reminiscent of Ossie Ardiles in his pomp, the diminutive Croat has made a giant contribution, pulling the strings game after game. When Modric works well, Spurs work well. It is as simple as that.
Now I know things are not always as we mug fans want in football. I know there are harsh realities. The rumoured offer comes from Manchester United, the club which has mined a rich seam of talent from us for years. United are ‘big’. The wages they pay are big. They will be in the Champions League next season and we almost certainly won’t. But at this stage the club should be making it clear that Modric is not for sale. Harry Redknapp says publicly that if you want to build you don’t sell your best players. And he is right. It is the job of the people who run a football club to convince the talent that if it stays then it can be part of something great. That is if the people running the football club have proper football ambitions.
The story is that we have been offered Berbatov plus cash for Modders. That’s Berbatov the player who insulted the club by threatening to strike if he was not given his ‘dream transfer’ to Man United last time the Reds came calling for the best of our players. I certainly would not want to see him return, and the fact that he would undoubtedly see a return as a step down means this would not be a great move. Despite our clear need for the kind of top-class striker we haven’t had since we sold him.
If the deal does go through, and I should stress this is still just a rumour, we will no doubt be told there was nothing the club could do, or that Modric wanted to go, and some spin will be concocted to once again underline the fact that the Spurs board is only responsible for the good stuff, not the bad stuff. I can easily believe that Modric would want to go. But if these stories are true we are opening talks too soon. This sends entirely the wrong signal. It says we are again prepared to sell our best to our rivals, that we are prepared to accept our rivals’ cast-offs, that we have no real ambition to compete for the top spot. And this will hasten the departure of our other gems.
There are realities, and there is the reality that you can shape your own reality. Spurs have entertained and won friends. We have made money from an unexpectedly good Champions League campaign. Season ticket prices are going up. And we are ultimately owned by one of the world’s richest men. I’m not suggesting abandon entirely a business model which has made us stable. What I am saying is that that stability needs to be used as a basis for moving up and properly challenging. That might entail a change to some aspects of the business plan in order to seize opportunity.
So how Spurs act in the coming weeks will shape what we are and what we want to be. The Modric situation is an iconic one. What happens in the next few weeks will define us for years. Are the people running Spurs up to the challenge? I really hope so.