Harry Redknapp yesterday reiterated his desire to keep Luka Modric at Tottenham Hotspur despite the midfielder's outspoken attack on chairman Daniel Levy this week.
Redknapp said that Modric trained as usual with the rest of the Spurs squad yesterday and has not raised the issue of his desire to join Chelsea with his manager. Redknapp also said that he expected Modric, 25, to be on the flight to South Africa tomorrow when the team go on their pre-season tour.
Modric has turned up the heat dramatically in his battle to leave Spurs, describing Levy as "cold" and "arrogant" in an interview with a Croatian newspaper and claiming that Levy had reneged on a gentleman's agreement made last summer to sell him if a bigger club made an offer. Spurs deny any such agreement existed.
On the player's relationship with Levy, who has been surprised at the ferocity of the attack, Redknapp admitted that there were bridges to build. "That's for him [Modric] to sort out, it's a difficult one," he said but added that he had no personal problems with the player.
Redknapp told The Independent: "To start with, the Chelsea offer at the moment is a ridiculous offer – and we don't want to sell him. But if you are going to make an offer, make an offer. Don't offer £22m for a player that is worth nearer to £50m. I don't want to sell him. He has been training as normal. He is not a boy who would cause problems, I have never had a minute's problem with him. He's trained hard today. He has got on with it. You wouldn't meet a nicer boy. The problem is that someone has come in and offered to double his wages."
Modric is earning £45,000-a-week with the implicit offer from Chelsea, who had a bid of £22m for him turned down last month, understood to be around £120,000-a-week. Spurs had planned to give him an improved deal later in the season but are now fearful just how far he could go in forcing a move. Having announced yesterday that midfielder Michael Essien will miss six months of action having undergone surgery to repair a cruciate knee ligament, Chelsea are preparing a second offer of £27m for Modric.
Redknapp said: "We want to keep him, I need to keep him. He is ambitious and he wants to play in a team and win something and he's been offered fantastic wages. But at the end of the day we want to keep him. If we sell him and sign no-one where are we going? Mid-table again.
"We have to show some ambition and keep hold of them as well as signing players. Liverpool are looking to sign Stewart Downing. They are getting in players to go above us so even hanging on to sixth place will be difficult. He [Levy] will make the decision. We obviously want to keep him and that will be up to the chairman."
Essien broke down in training on Thursday when he twisted his right knee. The joint was so swollen that doctors were unable to fully judge the extent of the injury for a couple of days. Essien, who has already suffered torn ligaments to both his knees in the past three years, faces another long fight to regain fitness again.
The injury also raises doubts about whether he will ever recover the power and drive that typified his performances for Chelsea before he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in 2008.
Chelsea are also considering buying another midfielder. Joao Moutinho at Porto is a candidate, but Porto are insisting on the full £35m buy-out clause in his contract. There were reports last night they were considering making a £6m bid for former player Scott Parker.
Chelsea defender Alex da Costa is one player who could be leaving the club before the start of the season, with Bayern Munich keen to tie up a deal worth £12m for the 29-year-old Brazilian who has two years left on his contract. Chelsea are also happy to listen to offers for Nicolas Anelka, whose form fell apart at the end of last season following the £50m arrival of Fernando Torres. Anelka, 32, has one year left on his contract and Paris St Germain are reported to be interested.