Relations between Chelsea and Tottenham hit a new low yesterday after Spurs insisted Luka Modric would not be sold to Stamford Bridge ''at any price''. Spurs also accused their London rivals of publicising a bid of £22m for the Croatian midfielder,who has now expressed a desire to move. Chelsea, who described suggestions that they publicised the bid as "nonsense'', put in their offer on Wednesday and far from accepting the rejection, are believed to have increased it to about £25m.
When Modric went public yesterday with his reasons for wanting to join them – "to win trophies and play Champions' League football every year" – Tottenham's chairman, Daniel Levy, was prompted to issue a strong statement criticising Chelsea and stressing that the player is going nowhere. He said: "We made our stance on this issue abundantly clear in writing to Chelsea. They chose to ignore it and then subsequently made the offer public.
"I wish to make it absolutely clear, as I have said previously, that none of our key players will be sold this summer. We are building a team for the future to consistently play at the highest level and retaining quality players is crucial to that. In respect of Luka Modric, we are not prepared to sell, at any price, to Chelsea Football Club or any other club. We now consider this matter closed.''
Whether Modric will share that take on events remains to be seen and Chelsea have a history of securing their man in the transfer market, usually at a hugely inflated price,
Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson is a great admirer of Modric's, and both Manchester clubs have been encouraged by his desire for a transfer, although the player says he and his family are keen to stay in London, which is why Chelsea are his first choice. Modric and his agent, meanwhile, must decide whether to make a formal transfer request this week.
* The Rennes midfielder Sylvain Marveaux has agreed to join Newcastle. The 25-year-old is a free transfer and he will sign a five-year deal.