Luka Modric has left for Real Madrid, so what now for Tottenham?
Tuesday 28 August 2012
There was little time for reflection or remembrance at White Hart Lane yesterday. Luka Modric, Tottenham Hotspur's most artful player since David Ginola, joined Real Madrid for £30m on a five-year deal. There will be a time to look back on Modric's contribution to Spurs but for now there is a four-day rush to find a replacement.
Andre Villas-Boas, speaking at the end of last week, knowing that Modric was soon to leave Spurs, demanded that the club make the most of the aftermath: "We just have to be able to act straight away after that."
Since then the Spurs manager has seen his team lose the lead in their home game against West Bromwich Albion. James Morrison's equaliser in added time meant that Villas-Boas's first two games have brought just one point. Playing a 4-2-3-1 system, with Jake Livermore and Sandro at the base, Tottenham have lacked imagination through the middle as well as the ability to see out results, two things which Modric's intelligence and control brought to the side.
No team can lose a player of Modric's ability and not suffer. Clearly, Tottenham will have to act quickly to recruit a replacement. Scott Parker, of course, will be back from his Achilles injury soon, but he is from the same category of destructive midfielders as Sandro and Livermore.
Spurs need to replace, as far as possible, Modric's brain and touch. The first choice was Joao Moutinho, whom Villas-Boas managed at Porto. But the new Tottenham coach admitted last week it would be almost impossible to tempt him to north London. "He is an excellent player, but it is an extremely difficult deal," Villas-Boas sighed. "He has become a player with other types of market so it is difficult for Tottenham. The player has overtaken the price that Tottenham can achieve."
If Moutinho cannot be signed, an alternative is Rennes' 22-year-old midfielder Yann M'Vila, an old target of Arsenal. Spurs have reportedly bid £12.7m for the France international, who is not quite as creative as Moutinho but would improve their passing and prompting. Further up the pitch there is still interest in Shakhtar Donetsk's Brazil forward Willian. Spurs are said to have had a bid of £11.8m rejected for the 24-year-old, who is a more likely candidate to play behind the lone striker, either wide or in the middle, rather than in the heart of midfield.
Should Tottenham have any spare time or money this week, they may well move for another goalkeeper. The Lyons president, Jean-Michel Aulas, said on Sunday Spurs had been in touch again concerning France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who is quicker than the current No 1 Brad Friedel and 15 years younger. There is a core of a very good team at Tottenham but that £30m must be well-spent before Friday night.
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