Spurs ready to play hardball over sale of £40m Modric

Levy will not sanction Croatian playmaker's move to Premier League rivals this summer

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The Independent Online

Tottenham Hotspur anticipate that if they do decide to sell midfielder Luka Modric this summer it will not be to a Premier League team and not for less than £40m. However, unlike 12 months ago, there is a greater possibility that the Croatian could be permitted to leave for the right price.

The issue of Modric's future is once again the subject of discussion, with Manchester United reported to be among the interested parties. But the four years left on Modric's deal mean that Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman, holds all the cards and he will not countenance selling one of the most sought-after midfielders in the world for less than a premium fee.

It is understood that Spurs rate the chances of an agreement to sell Modric this summer at around 50-50 but there is no deal currently in place with United. If they were to sell Modric, it would be Levy and Spurs' preference that he go to Spain, Italy or even the Qatari-owned Paris St-Germain in France's Ligue 1. Levy considers next season's target to be a place in the Champions League and he does not see the sense in selling his best players to competitors.

Modric lobbied hard for a move to Chelsea last summer, to the extent that he willingly gave interviews expressing his desire to leave the club but found Levy unyielding. Spurs' policy of either renewing contracts or selling players when they come to the final two years on their deal has placed Levy in a strong position with Modric, who signed a six year deal in May 2010.

It has been suggested that if one of the two major Spanish teams came in with a serious offer for Modric, and he wanted to go, Levy could be persuaded that a player who had given four years' service should be allowed to leave. It is indicative of their ambition that they are no longer prepared simply to sell their best players to traditionally bigger Premier League clubs, as they once did with Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester United.

Spurs are mindful of the situation that Arsenal found themselves in last summer with Cesc Fabregas and Barcelona when the player had four years left on his contract and was agitating to leave. Eventually Barça were able to buy him for £30m, a relatively low price for such an elite-level player. Spurs are determined that they will not be pushed into a corner in the same way.

In the meantime, there has been no offer by Spurs to manager Harry Redknapp of a new contract. It is a high-risk strategy by Levy who considers Champions League qualification to be Redknapp's target next season, an achievement which would be rewarded with a new deal. However, there are potential problems with that approach, not least the likelihood of the uncertainty affecting Redknapp over the course of the season.

The Poland coach, Franciszek Smuda, said yesterday that he believed striker Robert Lewandowski, who scored against Greece in the first game of Euro 2012 last night, was on his way to Manchester United. However, there was debate about whether Smuda had said the striker was capable of playing for United or whether he had knowledge of a definite deal.

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