Luka Modric: Simply Irreplaceable

By on May 31, 2011

This season in La Liga, Xavi Hernandez scored 3 goals & got 7 assists. Now by some peoples’ logic this means that Joey Barton (4 goals, 9 assists in PL) is better than him.

But no one would ever dream of saying such a thing would they? No of course not. Xavi is arguably the key player for one of the best sides ever. Sure Messi is the best player on the planet but what use is he if you can’t get him the ball?

That’s why Xavi is key, he’s the heartbeat & conductor of their team, all roads go through Xavi, he may not take the glory, but there would be no glory for anyone else without him.

I very much believe that the same is true of the man I have dubbed the ‘Croatian Xavi’. Luka Modric does for Spurs what Xavi does for the European Champions. He is our only truly irreplaceable player. A bold statement and people will ask, what about Bale? I can name you at least half a dozen wingers we could realistically sign that could do Bale’s job, maybe in a different style but still get the same results.

However I can’t see there being one realistic target who could do what Modric does for us. Players like that are few and far between, Xavi is one, Pirlo is maybe a little past his best now and wouldn’t be interested in us. Xabi Alonso is similar in that he can dictate the pace of a game, but I can’t see him swapping Madrid for N17 anytime soon.  Marek Hamsik at Napoli may have taken the step into that stratosphere this year too, but he’s already on the shopping lists of the very best clubs so would again be a no go. There are a few younger names coming through who could be considered, but they are unproven and no one could guarantee that someone like Ajax’s Christian Eriksen would settle into Premier League football quickly enough.

So, Daniel Levy, I know you’ve already said that bids won’t be entertained, I cannot stress enough how that really has to be the case. Losing Luka would be a massive blow to any ambitions we may have.

Many people were surprised when we paid Dinamo Zagreb £16.5m for Luka’s signature even before the Euro 2008 Finals had begun.  This appeared to be a lot of money for a relatively unknown player from what is hardly one of Europe’s elite leagues. He had however played his usual quiet unassuming role in getting Croatia to those finals, as they famously prevented England from qualifying (helping us get rid of McLaren in the process, result!)

Much was made of his small size and it was repeatedly doubted that he would be able to survive in the Premier League.  The doubters, including Harry Redknapp when he first arrived, should have taken a look at his history.   Zagreb, seeing an 18 year old with all the technique in the world knew that he needed toughening up. Their solution? They sent him on loan to Zrinjski Mostar in the Bosnian Premier League, a championship that is renowned for its physicality.

Modric proved his worth, learning how to mix it with the tough guys and won the Player of the Year award. He then went on to establish himself as a key figure for Zagreb and the Croat national team, as either an attacking left sided or central midfielder. He was always the man to provide tempo, and play in the likes of Kranjcar & another of Luka’s friends, former Arsenal striker Eduardo.

When Luka arrived at Spurs we were in the midst of the Ramos debacle and Modric was suffering from a niggling knee injury. This led to the media further questioning his ability to cope in the league. As the season drew on, he began to show glimpses of exactly what was to come. Mainly playing from the left side he was becoming the man to give the ball to. His supreme confidence on the ball comes from a low centre of gravity & surprising strength along with a delightful touch and seemingly eyes in the back of his head.  Added to this and something which is still missed by some, is his phenomenal work rate, he’s always chasing, tackling and pressing and he’s good at it.

Luka really came into his own as we made our run to fourth place in 09-10. His permanent move into the middle, at   that time along with THudd, was crucial. The determination he showed in coming back from a broken leg typifies him. His role really has become that of the deep-lying playmaker, often picking the ball up from the back line. At this point he’ll either play a quick pass and move up with play. Or he’ll turn, drop his shoulder, show a deceptive turn of pace taking 2 or 3 players out the game before releasing his inevitably accurate pass. When he does that I can’t help but smile, it’s glorious to watch, poetry in motion. That’s what football is about, moments like that.

One of the biggest remaining criticisms of Modric, is that he doesn’t score enough goals. That may be a fair point, but going back to the Xavi stats at the beginning, that really isn’t what he’s about. He’s the man to release Bale or Lennon on one of their trademark runs so they can get the ball in the box for Pav/Crouch/Defoe to spoon it over the bar.

Seriously though, when Luka does get a goal, it’s usually vital (winner v Chelsea) or special (the Gazza-esque run and finish v Stoke). His penalty at Anfield was also taken with composure, considering it was his first since missing one for Croatia in the Quarter Finals of Euro 2008 in a shootout.

One of the highlights this season has been the developing link up with Rafa Van Der Vaart. Rafa doesn’t always seem keen to give up the ball but he rarely hesitates to find Luka and they have provided some sparkling passages of play and appear to operate on the same wavelength. Xavi is better for his combination with Andres Iniesta and I see a similar symbiosis with Luka and Rafa. This can only bode well for our future.

I was delighted to see Luka receive recognition from the fans, voted our Player of the Year. Spurs fans know a proper player when they see one. It doesn’t surprise me, but still bothers me that he didn’t figure in the PFA awards list. At least the Football Writers recognised his ability, although they again bungled it by choosing Parker above him.

Luka Modric is truly the best player I’ve seen in a Spurs shirt since Paul Gascoigne. Although Gazza went about things in a more headline hogging fashion there is no doubt that Luka is as influential on our side as the Geordie genius.

That’s why he’s irreplaceable, losing him actually scares me. I do however really believe that Luka is a loyal guy and he’s happy at Spurs. He’s allowed the opportunity to run the team, as I’ve mentioned he plays well with our other top players, his mate Charlie will still be here next year and he’s settled.  Unless there is a major change in our ambition over the summer I can’t see him going anywhere.

We’ve been privileged to see a world class player develop and I hope we get to see Luka Modric grace White Hart Lane for many years to come.

Since I started writing this on Friday, the Champions League Final has taken place, in its aftermath Tor Kristian  Karlsen said this on Twitter: ‘consensus of footballs top opinionistas seems to be that only Cmid who could play for Barca without weakening them is Modric’ via @karlsentk – (Karlsen is a highly respected scout & football writer)

High praise indeed.

COYS

Submitted by THFC1882

 

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9 Comments

  1. JimB

    May 31, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Excellent article.

    And it’s precisely why Spurs WON’T sell Modric – especially to another Premier League club.

  2. David Halliday

    May 31, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Hi Mate, Totally agree, and really do think he is not that bothered about leaving. When I go to games with my two lads, we usually wait for autographs after, and Modric seems to remember them every time. He is a top guy, and signs almost every book that is eagerly awaiting his signature. A real gent, and I honestly believe, loyal too! Sure if Tottenham do want to cash in then there is not a lot he can do about it, but I do think he would be happy to stay and help keep building a team that he thinks has a chance to go far.
    However, once again money will talk. I have followed footy all my life, but like many of my friends I am getting tired of the same teams poaching players from us, and as for teams like City, who the year before the sheik came were nearly relegated (this is their TRUE position!), and Chelsae who would be ok, but not in the CL every year if not for the russian, and to the same extent man u too, who just have a boring arrogance about them. All these teams are killing the game we love.
    Dare I say it, as much as I cannot stand them, at least wenger is trying to do things the organic way and build a team the way it should be done. Well done to him for that!!

  3. DubaiYid

    May 31, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Spot on, i’ve said numerous times that Modric is the best player we’ve had at the lane in years, (maybe Ginola comes close). We have the backbone to play a 4-3-3 formation that Barcelona play so well with Modric and Rafa doing the Xavi and Iniesta roles and Thudd or Sandro our Busquets (who knits it all together by the way). We just need the 3 forwards now, Lennon needs to get more goals and be more direct running in the hole rather than waiting for balls to feet and Bale can play that Villa role if Harry decides to use him in a more direct role. We now need our Messi. A player who can come short and turn to run at defenders or can equally pop up in behind the defence. Maybe if we sign Marin him or Luka could play this role. If Modric did get more goals then the Messi role would be his.

    I’d like to see us line up as below (based on current squad):

    GOMES (Still our number 1)

    CHARLIE
    DAWS
    GALLAS
    BENNY

    THUDD
    RAFA
    SANDRO

    LENNON
    MODRIC
    BALE

  4. DubaiYid

    May 31, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Or swap Rafa and Luka.

  5. Pingback: Man Utd and Chelsea FC can sign Bale and Modric – for £75million – Crunchsports.com | Chelsea Football Club Stuff

  6. tony

    May 31, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    the elegance of modric amazes.hes come a long way in a short time.i thought when he came,hes too slight for english league.im happy to be proved wrong.watching him is like watching barcelona.(i cant give a greater compliment).

  7. Sir Cecil

    June 1, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Chelsea have almost finalized Modric’s transfer to Stamford Bridge. Only remaining detail to be ironed out is the value of Benayoun in the deal. Chelsea value him at 3m but Levy only values him at 1.5m.

  8. Studub

    June 2, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Thanks for the comments, be sure to check out the website at http://www.thfc1882.com or follow me on Twitter (@studub)

    Sir Cecil want to give us any concrete sources for your pie in the sky comment?

  9. Arsene Wenger

    June 17, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Lol. You guys remind me of Tottenham fans at school… Modric is worth £40 million this, Modric is beter than Fabregas that. All a load of rubbish.

    By the way, I have watched nearly every Tottenham match this season and he has hardly done anything for the team.

    I completely agree with the fact that stats don’t mean everything, but they do show that he can’t finish and can’t find that killer pass. He also has no speed, no strength, no skill, no aerial threat and no dribbling qualities.

    So, you still think he’s worth £40 million? The only thing he’s good at is short, easy passes. A bit like Wilshere, but Wilshere has other qualities too.

    -Leadership
    -Younger, so will get much better
    -Better dribbling
    -Can find that killer pass quite easily

    So, the truth is that Modric is one of the most overrated players in the prem (probably 2nd, after Bale who can play 1 good game a season)

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