Waddle: Spurs are a big enough club to let Modric rot in the reserves
EXCLUSIVE: Former Tottenham star Chris Waddle believes that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy should let Luka Modric “rot in the reserves” if the Croatian’s suitors fail to meet the club’s valuation.
Levy refused to sell Modric last year, causing the wantaway playmaker to miss the first Premier League game of the season at Manchester United.
Twelve months on, Levy is willing to cash in for �35million – and Real Madrid are leading the chase – but the impatient 26-year-old raised the temperature at the weekend by declining to show up for the squad’s flight to America.
An angry Andre Villas-Boas said: “We understand this type of player revolt is nothing new, but the club has to protect themselves. We have to hold on to our values and rights. Hopefully this won’t drag on too long as it doesn’t help Luka or us.”
However, despite the disruption to Spurs’ pre-season preparations, Waddle feels Levy should maintain his hard-line stance – all the way into September if necessary.
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“Tottenham are doing the right thing,” said Waddle, who scored 42 goals in 177 appearances for Spurs between 1985 and 1989, and is now an analyst for ESPN.
“Daniel Levy’s handled it really well over the last couple of years with his players – he’s not given them away.
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“If they want to sulk and sit in the reserves I think Tottenham are big enough now to accept that and say ‘well until we get your fee you either play or sit in the reserves and rot’. Manchester City did it with [Carlos] Tevez and it’s about time these clubs follow that lead.”
Waddle believes that Modric is worth every penny of his �35m valuation – but he is adamant that Tottenham could still progress under Villas-Boas and compete for the title if they sell him.
“It would obviously be disappointing to lose a player of his quality, but in modern-day football �35m will possibly get you two very good players,” he said.
“He’s a good player but he played 36 league games last year and scored four goals. He’s not an out-and-out goalscorer.
“He likes to keep the ball moving, technically he’s very good and I do like him. It would be great for Tottenham if he stays, but if he does go then you move on and you look around the market and you see what you can get that suits your system – and this is where Villas-Boas comes in because we don’t know what he’s going to do.
“He might play with two sitting players – two Scotty Parker types – with one up front, two wide and somebody like Van der Vaart in the hole in a kind of 4-5-1 system.
“He might have his own ideas on how he can improve Tottenham. He might think ‘yes we’d like to keep Modric but we can cope without him. I’ve got good contacts, I know two players I’ve got lined up already just in case’.
“His first priority is a number nine because they’ve got [Jermain] Defoe there and not a lot else - but if Modric wants to go and they get the price for him then he should be able to find a good replacement.”
Waddle, who is watching Tottenham’s pre-season tour of America with interest, believes that the Spurs job is the ‘first real test’ for Villas-Boas.
“It will be interesting because Villas-Boas didn’t really get a good crack of the whip at Chelsea,” he said. “I don’t think he could be judged there properly because I don’t think he really had control of the club – but with Tottenham he will, and we’ll see how he fares.
“You look at what he achieved at Porto, but then they’ve done well every year in their league. He had some good players there and they’re obviously a good club in that league, alongside Benfica and probably Sporting Lisbon – so I think this is his first real test.
“He’s going to get the licence to manage, to coach, to get players. I think it’s all down to Villas-Boas and this is how we’ll judge him.
“He’s at a club which is potentially a top-four club and if you get it right then there’s no reason why you can’t challenge for the title - but this is where he’s got to earn his corn.”
ESPN will televise live and exclusive coverage of three Tottenham pre-season friendlies: Spurs v Liverpool on Saturday July 28 (6pm); NY Red Bulls v Spurs on Tuesday July 31 (midnight) and Spurs v Valencia on Thursday August 9 (8.30pm).
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs