Spurs managed to resist Chelsea’s advances for Croatian playmaker Modric last summer, despite the player’s own stated intention to move at the time.
But if reports that he has already agreed terms with the Spanish champions are to be believed, then Spurs are unlikely to see such a stubborn approach succeed a second time.
While the loss of their much-loved midfield magician would be felt keenly by all associated with Tottenham, selling him to a foreign club for such big money—the midway point between the fees desired by both sides is around the £35 million mark—represents a real opportunity for them.
Sending him over to La Liga would mean not greatly strengthening another of the clubs at the top end of the table, but it would also avert Spurs fans having to witness the galling sight of Modric turning out for their London rivals every week.
With that £35 million they could replace Modric—with, ideally, Dzagoev—and perhaps even augment their squad in one or two other areas as well.
Dzagoev is the ideal signing to respond to the lost Modric and convince the fans that the club is still moving forward.
Born in 1990, he is almost a full five years younger than Modric. Dynamic and exciting, Dzagoev thrilled viewers with his three goals in Russia’s first two Euro 2012 group games before they somehow contrived to a defeat against Greece that saw them eliminated.
Such a turn of events could be a blessing in disguise for Spurs. Had Russia lived up to their status as tournament dark horses and progressed further, Dzagoev’s displays may well have led more clubs to chase his signature this summer.
Those three goals at Euro 2012—which came from just 10 shots—are perhaps not a true reflection of Dzagoev’s overall goal-scoring prowess at club level with CSKA Moscow. Last season he only scored five goals in 31 games in the Russian Premier League, while he has never netted more than eight in a single league campaign.
Still, that record is far superior to Modric’s, a player for whom simple goal and assist statistics fail to show his true worth to a team.
Dzagoev is usually more comfortable stationed further up the pitch than Modric. He is much more of an attacking midfielder, or even a No. 10, compared to Modric’s more central playmaking instincts.
Getting him on the books would enable Spurs to adapt the 4-4-1-1 system which previous boss Harry Redknapp stuck to so faithfully into a 4-2-3-1, something which would suit new head coach Andre Villas-Boas much more.
With Sandro and Scott Parker sitting deep, a trio of Gareth Bale, Dzagoev and Aaron Lennon attacking from behind whichever striker fills the Emmanuel Adebayor-shaped hole up front would give any team plenty to think about.
The conundrum of how to accommodate Rafael van der Vaart—not mobile enough for a central role in a 4-4-2, not quick enough for a wide role—would also be solved by this system. The Dutchman could still be very effective either taking Sandro’s place alongside Parker or by moving into the hole and shunting Dzagoev out wide.
Dzagoev also brings with him plenty of Champions League experience, having scored four goals in 16 appearances in the competition across three seasons. For a club so cruelly robbed of Champions League for the coming season courtesy of local rivals Chelsea lifting the trophy in May, the ambition to return to Europe’s top tournament will burn all the brighter.
As such, signing any player who has experienced facing the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Inter Milan and played well against them, especially at such a young age, can only be a good thing.
Losing such a beloved player as Modric would undoubtedly be a wrench for Spurs fans, but if the club’s hierarchy can move swiftly and decisively in the transfer market, then they could soon be hailing a new hero down at White Hart Lane.