Sunday 30 April 2017

Modric sets his sights on Chelsea

Tottenham Hotspur's Luka Modric. Photo: Reuters
Tottenham Hotspur's Luka Modric. Photo: Reuters

Jason Burt

Luka Modric wants to leave Tottenham Hotspur, and says that Chelsea are his "first choice" of the clubs who are hoping to sign him.

"I would like to go to Chelsea," the Spurs midfielder said. "A lot of players would like to go there and play for Chelsea because it is one of the best clubs in the world, and so do I, I would like to play there. But we will see what will happen.

"Chelsea are a great club, they play in the Champions League every year, they have great players, they are ambitious and have an ambitious owner who wants to invest in the club and make it win the Champions League, the Premier League and other titles. They are going in a great direction and everything about the club is very good."

With both Manchester clubs also interested, Chelsea bid £22m for Modric earlier this week -- which was flatly rejected by Spurs, who insist that the 25-year-old Croatian international is not for sale.

However, Modric is now stating that he would like to go, although he was at pains to stress that he only wanted this to happen if the right price is paid and a deal can be agreed.

Nevertheless, Spurs have a battle on their hands to keep him now that he has stated his intent.

Part of Chelsea's attraction for Modric is the club's location.

"I have settled very well in London and my family also," he said. "We are happy there. It is also near to Croatia, two hours on the plane, so everything about London is great.

"They (Chelsea) are the only one who sent an offer and they are at the moment my first choice."

Roman Abramovich has identified Modric as the kind of midfield playmaker that Chelsea lack -- especially as they try to create more chances for £50m signing Fernando Torres.

Abramovich, who is expected to appoint a new head coach imminently, with Guus Hiddink the firm favourite, is planning to spend heavily this transfer window.

Modric, who is on holiday, expects to hold talks with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy if an acceptable offer is made for him.

interest

"It's nice to hear of the interest, but, first of all, if something comes to the club I need to speak to the chairman and see what is best for me, my future and for the club," he said.

"I need to speak to the chairman and see his view on everything because last year, when I signed a contract extension, I spoke with him and said: 'If something comes to the club, some big clubs make an offer for me and want to buy me (then I would like to listen).'

"He said: 'We will sit, speak and see what is the best option' for both Tottenham and for me.

"I don't want to fight and argue with Tottenham. I want to go in a good way, a friendly way, so I can stay friends with them.

"I want to go in the right way because I have spent three great years there and the fans are great, the club is great.

"I love them and they love me, but that's the way it is and I have to think what is best for my career."

Modric signed a six-year deal last year, having arrived at Spurs in 2008 for more than £16m from Dinamo Zagreb. He has become the club's most important.

Manager Harry Redknapp has described Chelsea's initial bid as "derisory" and stated that he has had assurances from Levy that Modric will not be sold.

That resolve will be tested by an increased offer from Chelsea, while other bids may be lodged.

Modric's stance will only add to the pressure, but he was at pains to point out that he wanted his departure to be amicable.

"I think they (the supporters) should understand," Modric said. "Every game for Tottenham I gave my best, everything I could give and maybe it's not the first time that some players have left Tottenham. I hope they understand."

Asked whether he felt it was the right time to leave to further his career, he added: "Maybe it is. But, like I said, first of all I need to speak with the chairman and if some of those clubs sent an offer and it is good for the club and fulfils my personal ambition, then why not? I would like to leave.

"I have spent three great years at Tottenham, it is a great club but in your professional career you can't play 20 to 30 years. It's a short period and you want to fulfil your personal ambitions as a football player, win trophies, play Champions League football every year. That is what I want."

Spurs' failure to qualify for next season's competition is a major factor in Modric's thinking.

"Last season it was the first time I had played in the Champions League and it was amazing," he said. "It's a great competition, the best in the world and I would like to play in it again. I would like to play in it this year -- it's going to be difficult to play without the Champions League. But I hope I will play in it."

It is believed that Tottenham might sell Modric if an offer close to £35m is made -- although the club are insistent that this is not the case and that he is not for sale at any price. If that resolve holds, then Modric would seek further talks but is not considering handing in a transfer request.

"I'm not thinking about that now," he said. "I think we will deal with everything in the right way, a friendly way.

"If an offer comes to the club and it's a good offer for the club and what they expect then I think they will not make a problem for me. I don't want to leave Tottenham just to leave but if a big club comes then, yes." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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