Glenn Moore: If Modric had gone to Bridge, Villas-Boas would still have a job

 

Luka Modric could be forgiven for running out at Stamford Bridge today, seeing the big screen advertising tickets for a Champions League quarter-final, and wondering what might have been. And if he does not, Andre Villas-Boas, should he interrupt his gardening to tune in on television, is bound to ponder the subject.

Last August, it seemed inevitable that the Croatian midfielder would move to Chelsea for around £40 million, not least because he seemed to be actively agitating to do so and Harry Redknapp appeared to be pondering how to spend the money. At one stage, Modric was left out of the Tottenham Hotspur team, then returned to be booed as Spurs rolled over 5-1 at home against Manchester City in a game Modric had unsuccessfully asked Redknapp to be omitted from.

Daniel Levy, however, was following a different script. The Tottenham chairman played hardball, not to drive the fee up, as when selling Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane, bringing in around £70m, but because the player was under contract and Levy had no intention of selling. Giving in would broadcast the message that Spurs were still a selling club. Gareth Bale would soon follow and Spurs would revert to being Europa League hopefuls with a chance in the cups – in the good years.

That may prove to be their fortune this season, but had Jermain Defoe stretched a little further, a little quicker, at Eastlands in January they might well still be maintaining Tottenham's first serious title challenge in a generation. If Modric has not played quite as well as last season, when most Spurs fans viewed him as of greater significance than the more acclaimed Bale, he has still been highly influential.

But what if Modric, with his eye for a quick pass, his ball-rotation and ability to play across midfield, had gone to Chelsea? It is not too fanciful to envisage him on the left of a diamond midfield, with Ramires on the right, Juan Mata in the hole and Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge in attack. That is a mobile, fluid attacking line-up, much more in keeping with Villas-Boas's remit to overhaul and quicken the team. Instead on August deadline day Chelsea signed Raul Meireles, who has many qualities but is no Modric. Villas-Boas then found himself caught between modernising and surviving, trying to phase out Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, but frequently needing them to rescue results. It was an unhappy paradox which he failed to resolve.

With Chelsea again in flux it is Manchester United who are most likely to test Levy's resolve this summer. At 26 Modric is entering the prime of his career and will want to maximise both his earnings and chances of winning trophies. Much will depend on where Spurs finish, and whether Redknapp stays, but with Modric under contract until 2016 Levy still has the upper hand.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?