From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.34 :: NO.37 :: Sep. 15, 2011
The perceived wisdom is that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has done everyone a favour by refusing to sell Luka Modric to Chelsea in the transfer window.
He has struck a blow against player power, the reasoning goes.
He has sent out a message to football in general that Tottenham are not a selling club. That they are capable of keeping their best players.
That they cannot be backed into a corner by brooding millionaires who sign contracts and then have their heads turned by the first club who come by and promise to double their wages.
If all this were true then Levy indeed would have done football a favour. The reality, however, might be quite different.
According to manager Harry Redknapp, Tottenham turned down the best part of £40million for Modric. That is serious cash for a player who is a tidy midfield attacking playmaker but who scored just four goals in 42 appearances for Tottenham last season.
Admittedly there were many assists, too, but Modric is no Frank Lampard at his peak, a midfielder who could virtually guarantee 20 goals or thereabouts a season.
He is no Steven Gerrard, a midfielder who has made a career out of winning crucial matches on the grandest of stages virtually single-handedly.
Modric is important to the Tottenham cause but he is not irreplaceable.
Whether Levy has been cute or cavalier depends on what he has now at White Hart Lane.
Does he have a midfielder in Modric prepared to shed buckets of sweat in the Tottenham cause, one prepared to put behind him the last few weeks and concentrate on helping Spurs climb the Premier League table and do well in the Europa League?
Or does he have a player who will be consumed by jealousy and resentment every time he sees once-potential team-mates at Chelsea racking up victories in the Champions League, as well they might?
Redknapp claims it has been the most disruptive transfer window on record. He admits Modric's head has been all over the place. He reckons, too, that he can work his managerial magic and get Modric back playing at his best in a Tottenham shirt.
Yet on August 31, 2011, Modric wanted to leave. He wanted Champions League football. He wanted to accept a pay packet beyond his dreams to move to west London.
On September 1, 2011, you can bet he still wanted all those things, despite the fact that he was bound by a long-term contract at White Hart Lane.
There is no doubt that morally Modric should stay and dovetail with the newly-acquired and more pragmatic Scott Parker to give his current employers the best of his talent.
But when was it in the interests of a football club to keep a player who no longer wanted to play for them?
Levy made a mistake recently when he said Modric was going nowhere whatever the price. An honest mistake, no doubt. He believed his stand would lend his club solidity and credibility. He thought he was taking control. Instead, he backed himself into the tightest of corners, one which has seen Tottenham unsettled and disrupted and pointless in the first crucial weeks of the new season.
He could now see his best midfielder, alienated and dispirited by the club's inflexible stance, struggle to produce his best form only for the same choices to rear their head when the next transfer window opens in January.
Levy tried to do the right thing by football. He really did and he is to be commended for it. It might, however, turn out to be the wrong thing for Tottenham.
Owen Hargreaves has barely played a football match in the past three years.
Yet if Manchester City, packed with attacking talent but light on holding midfielders, get anywhere close to the player who was England's star-performer at the 2006 World Cup then his move across Manchester just might prove to be the best business of the summer transfer window.
How ironic that the world's richest club might have got exactly what they required. For free.
Craig Bellamy can start an argument in an empty room. He is opinionated and demanding and fervently believes even when he is wrong, he is right. He can be a football manager's nightmare.
If Kenny Dalglish were not the manager of Liverpool then Bellamy's return to Anfield at 32 might have been seen as a potential folly.
With Dalglish, a legend to Bellamy in his impressionable years, it is inspired.
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