The longest running transfer deal of the summer, so far, looks set to end, with Croatian media reporting that Luka Modric will leave Tottenham Hotspur to sign for Real Madrid in a deal that will see the Spanish giants part with some £35 million.
Speaking to Sportske Novosti, Zoran Mamic, a former Croatian international and current Director of Football at Modric's old club, Dinamo Zagreb, all but confirmed the deal when he said his club would gain £2.5 million from a sell on clause when his old player left Spurs for Madrid.
Los Blancos and Jose Mourinho had earmarked the Croatian midfielder as their key signing of the summer before the European Championships, where they had made it known to the players' representatives and Spurs that they were more than interested in acquiring the talented playmaker.
Modric went on to enjoy an excellent tournament with the Croats, who were unluckily paired with Spain, Italy, the two eventual finalists and the hapless Irish in Group C.
The player returned from international duty amidst rumours of bids from longtime admirers Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid. However, Tottenham's hard-nosed chairman and negotiator extraordinaire, Daniel Levy, immediately slapped a £40 million fee on Modric's head and made it known immediately that he would except very little less that the demanded fee.
Levy, a well-known tough customer in transfer negotiations, made Manchester United and Liverpool pay £31 million and £20 million for Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane, respectively. He is a very shrewd dealer in these situations. The main reason behind the exorbitant fee is that it would provide Tottenham with something like the amount of monies they would make if they qualified for the Champions League. Hence the fee for their best player becomes something of a safety net and compensation fee towards the following season.
Can Spurs replace Modric?
As a player, there is no doubting Modric's talents. Having joined Spurs for £16.5 million in 2008, he has played 159 games for the club and has scored 17 goals with 26 assists and is, without doubt, one of the best playmaking midfielders in the world. So it is no exaggeration to say that he would seamlessly fit into any of Real Madrid's, Barcelona's or even Spain's team—he is that good.
He has a phenomenal range of passing, but his main attribute is his ability to read the game and to know exactly where each and every one of his teammates are when he picks up the ball and then to choose the right pass.
Despite his slender size, he is also a tireless worker and never shirked his duty for Spurs on or off the pitch. However, that all changed recently when he failed to show up for Spurs' preseason tour of the United States, and as a result, he was fined £80,000, or two weeks' wages to you and me.
Before Spurs left for America, their new manager, Andre Villas-Boas, told a press conference that a deal would only go through if Levy's valuation was matched saying; "Luka is an intelligent person and understands the club has to defend his value their values, rights and interests."
"It's a difficult situation for the club but we have been co-operative by openly saying we are willing to listen to offers.
Before adding, "but the offer has not been met to what the chairman [Daniel Levy] wants. If that is met there won't be any problems."
The strike obviously had the desired effect, though, as negotiations with Real Madrid, which had hit a snag because the Spanish champions refused to rise above £27 million, began afresh with Levy still demanding northward of that fee, but having believed to become relaxed on his initial demand of £40 million.
In the end, Modric apologised, and Real Madrid met Spurs halfway with a renewed £35 million fee, and the deal looks set to be finalised later this week.
The transfer of Modric to Madrid is now expected to open the floodgates on signings for Tottenham with Emmanuel Adebayor, who scored 18 goal on loan there from Manchester City last season, and Joao Moutinho high on the priority list of Villas-Boas.
Signing a midfielder will now become a critical piece of business and strategy for the Portuguese, as Scott Parker is expected to miss the start of the season through injury, which leaves Villas-Boas with only the returning Tom Huddlestone and Brazilian Olympic midfielder Sandro Ranieri as his only viable options in the most important part of the team.
And if Spurs do not move swiftly to replace the little genius from Zadon, they will miss him in more ways than one, compensation fee or not.
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