The possibility of Luka Modric joining Chelsea is "dead", according to Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. The two teams meet at White Hart Lane tonight and, had the summer's events gone differently, Modric could quite plausibly have been returning to Tottenham for the first time.
Chelsea offered Tottenham £40m for the midfielder in August but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy stood firm, despite Modric's interest in the move to a higher-paying and more successful club. Ahead of tonight's game, though, things are different. Modric has continued to play with his characteristic grace and wit, while Chelsea have missed precisely those qualities in their unsettled midfield. Spurs are two points ahead of Chelsea with a game in hand.
Redknapp was unequivocal yesterday on whether Modric might still be interested in a move to Stamford Bridge. "No, I think it's dead now," he said. "I don't see that happening now. He's here and he's happy here. It doesn't matter what Chelsea offer, he isn't going to Chelsea in January, not a chance."
Although Modric struggled at the start of this season, not featuring in the 3-0 defeat at Manchester United on August 22, Redknapp praised his focus since then.
"It could have affected other boys, but I said that even when it was all going on, he just kept training," he said. "He missed the one game, when it all got on top of him, just at that time. He's such a lovely boy that maybe seeing it every day, full on, on TV and in the papers, that probably got to him. And he just found it hard that week to concentrate on his football."
While Redknapp was delighted to keep Modric, Daniel Levy was the main bulwark against the move. Redknapp admitted his sympathy for Modric, which even aligned him against his chairman. "At one stage I did (disagree with Levy)," he said, "because I came out and said I could understand where (Modric) was coming from. It's difficult, isn't it? If someone offers you a fantastic offer to go to treble your wages."
With Tottenham having kept Modric and Gareth Bale this summer, and third in the league, Redknapp feels optimistic: "We've got to be a club that's looking to go places. The potential is great. We've got good players. I would love to see us, if we're going to make a signing, perhaps make one big signing. That would really send out a message."
Tottenham may not have all their best players available tonight -- Gareth Bale is "very doubtful", Ledley King at "50/50", while Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe will be assessed this morning. Aaron Lennon is out with a hamstring injury. (© Independent News Service)