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At £16.5M He’s The Best Buy Since Gascoigne

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 …’s Stuart Watts gives us an excellent definition of ‘irreplaceable’.

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 weaken them is Modric’ via @karlsentk (Karlsen is a highly respected scout & football writer)

Our thanks to Stuart and thfc1882 for sharing, you can read more HERE

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Article title: At £16.5M He’s The Best Buy Since Gascoigne

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