Modric changes tack after Spurs stand firm over Chelsea interest
Luka Modric is expected to backtrack on an interview he gave over the weekend in which he intimated he wanted to join Chelsea, by issuing a statement this week in which he will attempt to rebuild the damage done to his relationship with both his club, Tottenham Hotspur, and their chairman, Daniel Levy.
After an eventful five days in Modric's career, culminating in an interview published on Saturday in which he said that his ambition lay away from Spurs – and potentially at Chelsea – the player is said to be keen to take the sting out of the situation.
Modric is expected to clarify in his statement that he does not have his heart set on a move to Chelsea – just that if Spurs agreed a deal with the club he would be prepared to go. Sources at Tottenham have said that regardless of what Modric said over the weekend, he is not in the frame of mind to go to war with the club to force a move.
The Croatia international has always enjoyed a good relationship with Levy, whose last conversation with Modric at the end of the season was said to be positive. The club feel that the player was ill-advised to do the interview and did not realise the impact that his words would have just two days after news had leaked that Spurs had rejected a £22m bid from Chelsea.
Spurs are puzzled about the involvement in the Modric saga of the last few days of Kia Joorabchian – advisor to Carlos Tevez and Mark Hughes – especially as they have always enjoyed a good relationship with Modric and his agent, Mario Mamic. They are eager to discover whether Joorabchian has an interest in Modric signing for Chelsea as opposed to any of the other clubs interested in him – such as Manchester United or Manchester City.
The unequivocal statement released by Levy on Saturday that Spurs would not sell Modric under any circumstances is a demonstration of the strength of feeling over the saga. Levy does not regard the situation as any thing like the one when Dimitar Berbatov eventually left for Manchester United in 2008. Spurs think the matter is retrievable and that Modric will be happy to stay at the club for another season, at least.
Before Modric's interview, Levy was prepared to give the player a new contract above his current £45,000-a-week deal to reflect his contribution last season. However, they now feel that it would send out the wrong signal to reward him so soon after speaking out. Nevertheless, he is likely to get a new deal before the end of the year.
Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, said yesterday other big clubs were interested inModric. The notion he would only wish to stay in London were he to leave Spurs is not thought to be accurate. Redknapp said it was significant that Levy had taken a very strong stance over Modric which would make it hard for him to change his mind. "If Daniel's saying 'No' he really can't be seen to be going back on that now," Redknapp said. "He's made a very strong statement. I wouldn't see Daniel backtracking on that at any price."
The events of the last few days have also caused bad feeling between Spurs and Chelsea. Levy accused the club of making their £22m offer public. Chelsea have denied that was the case. Modric has five years left on his contract which puts him in a weak position to attempt to force a deal, especially with Chelsea and City unlikely to bid more than £35m.
Redknapp said that Spurs needed to demonstrate to Modric that they had "ambition". He said: "If we can add one or two good players to our squad there's no reason we can't have another great season. So Tottenham could be a great club for him to stay with for the next few years. That's what we're hoping for."
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