While he does not rack up eye-popping stats, all regular Tottenham observers are well aware of the impact Modric has on his team, and the damaging impact his departure would have on Tottenham’s ambition. Indeed, many Tottenham fans rate the performances of Modric above those of Gareth Bale, who burst onto the world stage last season.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has rebuffed Modric’s desire to leave by stating his club “are building a team for the future to consistently play at the highest level.”
The problem is: Has the attitude of Tottenham manager mirrored that thought process in recent months?
When interviewed about Modric wanting out Redknapp said, “He sees the chance to win the league and play Champions League football, but we want that as well.”
While that is all well and good, Redknapp sang from a different hymn sheet during the difficult grind of the season, and the seeds of Modric wanting out could have been sown then.
Back in January, Redknapp grumbled to the London Evening Standard about how difficult it would be to finish fourth. How is he now going to convince Modric that winning the league is on his agenda?
“You’ve got Man City who just keep buying fantastic players. You’re not going to finish above Manchester United, so it’s going to be very tough.”
Redknapp’s words may be true but are they motivational?
The fact is, unless you play the underdog card of competing with and beating the top teams, your players will just want to join them. For all the talk of wages, most footballers know they need to win medals to leave a mark on the game. Facing teams your manager openly admits are richer and better than you is hardly exciting.
If Tottenham are to be appealing to new signings, and keep their current squad engaged they must be seen to be embarking on an exciting campaign.
Could the battle for the top four be made exciting? Absolutely, but many players want to play in Europe. Well, there is no Champions League but the chance for glory is still there, ask Andre Villas-Boas what his thoughts are on the Europa League.
Tottenham could try and win a trophy, and that could put the players in the club’s history books. Players like Pat Jennings, Alan Mullery, Martin Chivers, Steve Perryman and Gary Stevens all won the UEFA Cup with Tottenham and are forever remembered at the Lane.
Could the chance to join these men and add a significant chapter to the club’s history be made appealing to players and motivate them? You bet.
Has Redknapp done it? Absolutely not. Instead, the manager has made it clear without a ball being kicked that it is a competition “that teams get in and then try to get out of,” the downbeat Redknapp also labeled the tournament a “distraction.”
Whether Redknapp has achieved enough in football to look down on a trophy won by men like Villas-Boas and Jose Mourinho is another conversation.
However, one question must be asked: How is Luka Modric now supposed to care about the season? It is set up that he will chase fourth against teams that are perceived as richer and better, and compete in a European tournament his manager does not care about. Why not go play somewhere else?
Redknapp said the Eurtopa League was a “million miles away from the Champions League.”
He may be right, but is it now difficult to motivate himself to do other things? Perhaps that was the reason Tottenham lost to Wigan Athletic, West Ham United and Blackpool last season. Spurs also failed to beat West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers and relegated Birmingham despite having a stronger squad.
Sadly, Redknapp has painted a picture of an upcoming season that is simply not too appealing, and as such it is hard to blame Modric for wanting out. Sadly for Tottenham fans, he may not be the last player to Bale out.