Andre Villas-Boas and his Tottenham squad travelled to the United States last Saturday without wantaway Luka Modric after the midfielder failed to show up at the airport. The player was reportedly fined two weeks’ wages for the second time in as many days as he missed training on Friday in manoeuvrings to force a transfer. Tottenham maintain that Modric will be allowed to leave providing the buying club - Real Madrid and PSG are interested - can meet their hefty valuation of the player.
Spurs have understandably been riled by the player’s behaviour. His actions prompted this response from Villas-Boas: "I think Modric is wrong. This will go against him. He has worsened the situation with what he's doing and now the chairman [Daniel Levy] is very angry."
For the second summer in a row, Modric is at the centre of an extensive transfer saga and last year it was Chelsea’s persistence that drew the ire of Tottenham who claimed the Blues’ interest had unsettled their player. Modric missed the opening game of the 2011/12 season against Manchester United as former manager Harry Redknapp admitted that the player’s head was ‘not right’.
Yet, it was Chelsea who pursued Modric last year and Villas-Boas who publicly confirmed their interest in the player. Having placed Modric in similar temptation to leave the club last summer, Villas-Boas finds himself in an ironic, but insightful, position of dealing with a player seduced by other clubs.
Modric too, stated last year that he was flattered by the interest Villas-Boas had shown in him: “I know that the new Chelsea boss (Andre Villas-Boas) said he wants me in his team. Of course I am flattered by this interest in me”.
In the year since last summer, a lot of elements surrounding the player and his club have changed. Tottenham Hotspur finished above Chelsea in the league but missed out on Champions League qualification. Modric now has the manager he wanted to join at current club Tottenham but still desires a move away.
Is it that players join clubs who emanate ambition rather than the managers of these clubs? In the modern-day revolving door of the managerial hotseat, the influence of the manager is undermined and worth less. Eden Hazard signed for Chelsea before Di Matteo was confirmed as full-time head coach but the club’s ambition and Champions League success ultimately concurred with the Belgian’s own vision.
Modric’s insistence on leaving Tottenham Hotspur, beyond loyalty and service, illustrates how teams are judged on ambition in spending and recent success. For a consecutive summer, North London neighbours Arsenal are set to lose their best player following Van Persie’s announcement that he would not be signing a new contract. His decision was based upon discussions with the Arsenal board after which the striker concluded the club’s ambition did not match up to his. Seven trophy-less seasons also surely came to mind.
For Modric, despite finishing fourth with Spurs last term, regular Champions League football is fundamental to his personal aims. And for such quality players, the club’s success must coincide with the player’s ambition if he is to stay at the club.
images: © apasciuto