Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tottenham Hotspur's Luka Modric To Replace Paul Scholes at Manchester United?

Luka Modric has a growing set of admirers, his performances for Tottenham Hotspur since signing from Dynamo Zagreb for £16.5 million, have set him apart at White Hart Lane as perhaps their only potential world class player. And just as Harry Redknapp has the team humming, it seems that the little maestro from Zaton could be a transfer target for Manchester United.

Modric first came to prominence in England after he orchestrated Croatia's famous victories over the Three Lions in the Euro 2008 qualifiers, which culminated in Steve McLaren being sacked as England boss after they failed to qualify for the final tournament.

During Euro 2008, Modric was named in the team of the tournament by Gerard Houillier, who had this to say about the player.

"Not only is he a very hard worker, he has a good brain and he provided some calmness and composure to the midfield. His passing was neat and his contribution was outstanding.

"He was not only winning the ball, he was passing well. We thought that he was very influential. He did not just work hard, he made the other people play well around him."

It was only a matter of time before one of Europe's big guns came in for the play-maker but it was Spurs under the stewardship of Juande Ramos that snook in under every-ones noses and signed him to a six year contract.

Spurs under Ramos were a far cry from the organized team that Harry Redknapp now employs, although the Spaniard was handcuffed to some extent by, ex-Director of Football, Damien Comolli's transfer sales at the club.

After pinpointing Modric as the attacking fulcrum for his team, Ramos soon discovered that he had not received any of his other targets in addition to that he also lost both of his strikers, Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov.

Without his forwards, Ramos had to change his starting XI around and Modric was forced to switch position from attacking midfielder just behind the front two to a more combative role in central midfield.

After an unbeaten preseason, but now without their forward line, Spurs got off to their worst start since 1912. Modric was a lone figure in a team that had lost some of it's best players.

Unfamiliar to this new position, his form dipped and the English media, always quick to find weakness, poured scorn on the "lightweight" Modric as a central midfielder, not knowing that while more than capable in filling a void, Modric was being used out of position.

Since Redknapp took over in October of 2008, Modric has found himself again out of his favoured position, as Redknapp prefers a straight 442, but in acknowledging the Croatian's genius on the ball, Harry has allowed him a free role that has seen him pop up all over the pitch, but usually behind the front two.

"He has been great, he comes in off the left and finds space,' Redknapp said of his play-making midfielder. 'It seems to have suited him and he has slotted into that position fantastically.

"He can play anywhere really, he's that good. 'When you're playing with smaller players you are looking to pass and play your way in, and Luka pops up in that inside position and it's a problem for full-backs.

"He has even played centrally and was great. He's a fantastic talent."

Before his injury, Modric was in such rare form that many managers were left scratching their heads in trying to figure out how to mark him out of the game.

That headache was taken out of the equation for both Carlo Ancellotti and Alex Ferguson after Luka broke his leg against Birmingham, and it is no small coincidence that Spurs were such easy pushovers in those two matches without Modric's influence.

The instruction for the rest of the team is simple—get Modric on the ball.

"That's what I tell them," Redknapp said. "We've got to keep giving him the ball because you get him on the ball and he makes things happen."

In returning to form under Redknapp, Modric has again begun to catch the eye of some of Europe's most well known teams and managers. Capable of playing anywhere across midfield and with technique second to none, Modric would be an exquisite addition to any team.

Over the past six months Alex Ferguson has spoken of his admiration for the Croat playmaker time and time again, and as late as last August Modric was linked in a player plus cash deal involving Michael Carrick as Fergie steps up his attempts to find an heir to Paul Scholes.

Both Giggs and Scholes are in the twilight of their careers, and had United not been defeated by Barcelona in last seasons Champions League final they most probably would have retired.

That date was put off as United embark on another mission to capture European footballs elite trophy, but the duo do not have long left at the top.

Giggs is perhaps in a better position than Scholes as he is far more versatile, but Scholes influence in the middle of the pitch is just as important, if not more.

This is where Ferguson sees Modric, a direct replacement for one of the ageing duo.

After their Carling Cup Final victory over Spurs last season, Alex Ferguson was quick to commiserate with losing manager Redknapp, but he also let him know how big of an admirer of Modric he was.

Ferguson has already lost one talismanic figure in Cristiano Ronaldo, but received £80 million in compensation for the Portuguese. That money now lies relatively untouched in the vaults at Old Trafford and United now face the prospect of losing two of their most important players with nothing to show for it.

Ferguson could be forced to bring in a replacement in January so he would have time to settle before next season.

The Croatian Cryuff has settled into the frentic pace of the Premiership with Spurs, and with the players like Wilson Palacios in the team Modric now has the perfect foundation in place for him to perform to the heights he is capable of.

Spurs are benefiting thus far, but they will have a battle on their hands if and when Alex Ferguson comes inquiring.

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