Dirty tactics will not give Luka a clean slate

Daniel Levy could negotiate his way out of hell. At the conclusion he’ll be standing behind the desk once frequented by St Peter at Heaven’s Gate with the devil smiling to himself in the flame infested pits holding a Spurs ‘Champions League 2013’ mug proclaiming victory. You don’t mess with the chairman of the board. Even if you think you’ve won, you’re probably losing.

The second and possibly final chapter of the Luka Modric transfer saga is now in full flow. He’s missed training and a flight to the US for Tottenham’s pre-season tour. Andre Villa-Boas revealing that he believes Modric to be wrong and that the situation has worsened, with Levy angered by the player’s behaviour. Fine(s) imminent or handed out depending on what you wish to believe. Last summer’s yacht has been replaced with a one man revolt. Absent, on strike, same difference. But alas all Luka is looking to do is better himself, and why wouldn’t he want to join Alonso, Ozil, Kaka, Sahin, Khedira, Diarra, Callejon, Granero (to name a few). Seriously though, why would he not want to move on? It’s his prerogative. If not quite his unequivocal decision to do so.

We’ve been here before with Spurs and Levy (Carrick and famously with Berbatov). Last season the club made an emphatic stance during an attempt by player and agent to orchestrate a move to Chelsea with conducting responsibilities by some of the English press that painted a picture of injustice. Modric was being kept hostage at little old Tottenham. A gentleman’s agreement was supposedly the reason why the player and agent sulked with petulance. They lost that battle. Why? The player has a contract with the club. A long term contract. Ironically, having finished 4th, Champions League was not forthcoming. The irony deepened further by the fact that Chelsea finished 6th, won the CL and took the last place for next seasons competition. Regardless, Modric and agent might have still looked towards leaving Spurs. Both will be richer for it and with the player at his playing prime, his ambitions might exceed ours. Or to be more poignant, his ambitions are his own and might not be ones we care to understand or appreciate. So here we are once more except it’s a year on, and now with four years left on that contract.

The game however has changed. His prerogative hasn’t. Ours has shifted, to his advantage. We’re listening to clubs willing to bid for him.

Spurs value Modric at a particular high end price. Possibly to deter other English clubs from bidding as Levy wants to avoid strengthening them with probably the league’s best pound for pound midfielder. He’s valued at that price (supposedly £30-£35M) not only to fit into the current pricing English clubs are paying for top players but because that’s what he’s worth to Tottenham. Other clubs, interested parties, might not value him as highly as we do – so that’s where common ground must be found. Add-ons, player swaps, a dozen roses. If the bid is too low then Levy is hardly going to surrender to the demands of player/agent/say Real Madrid just because it’s the easy way to conclude this story. Why would football’s hardest negotiator give in?

I guess this is where we’ll find out if what’s written down on paper is stronger than the actions of man. Can a contract bind a player to a club or can reluctance to obey tear it into two?

This is the second summer of distraction and there is one year less on that long term contract and because it’s the second summer in succession the player wants to escape, the game has changed and the tactics are now dirty. Berbatov forced the issue when he was at Spurs, but Levy got the valuation he wanted for him. Although signing Frazier Campbell on loan felt like Utd had the last laugh. Equally so, the timing was awful for us. Lessons learnt. A far more messy experience. Levy was called petulant for making a stand at the time. However, the mocking media (when doing their best to push Luka to Chelsea) did give credit in the end to the chairman for making a winning stand against the West London club. A football club overpowering player power. The former rarely beats the latter into submission.

The major difference this summer is that Spurs have been willing to listen to offers and negotiate. I wonder if a ‘second’ gentleman’s agreement was struck last time out. ‘If someone bids the right price for you, you can go’. If that’s the case, it certainly looks like we’re keeping to our word. If a club can’t meet our valuation then a deal won’t be concluded. If the bitter reality is now sinking in for Luka, dirty tactics is the only way to pressure the club because how can you account for a £30M player refusing to wear the shirt with pride, stuck in the reserves…when Spurs don’t even have a reserve team? Probably a bit too far-fetched to bring it back just for him. Although Berbatov is available and we still owe him one, so they can perhaps keep each other company? A fantasy too far.

A different ilk of irony now befalls us. We want to sell the player because we know he wants to leave. We know he’s at his prime age for being sold. Another season at Spurs and his valuation will drop. Who’s to say his performances won’t either? They didn’t falter last season, he was excellent. But to expect another season of retention is a scenario too far-fetched.

The fact still remains the player is under contract with us. It’s a shame he can’t patiently wait to see how discussions pan out between Spurs and Madrid. But if the stagnation has forced him to react this way then all dignity has been lost. We value him more than Madrid do, it seems, at this moment in time. The club has to retain balance by being the ones doing the selling under their conditions. Another messy experience is upon us. Which party will claim the happy ending?

Modric should behave like a professional and get on with representing the club. The fact he was meant to be on that plane would suggest that any proposed deal is not at the point of a medical which means no common ground has been found just yet. Hence the frustration. Is it worthy of desperation? Player and agent seem to think so. But if he thinks the club, after what we went through last summer with Chelsea, are about to throw all that away in a grand display of weakness to appease the same player…he must be utterly insane. Hell would need to freeze over first.