AVB sees end to Modric saga

For the second successive summer, Spurs have seen their Croatian playmaker dominate the gossip columns.

They were successful in their efforts to keep him at White Hart Lane in 2011, fending off interest from capital rivals Chelsea, but appear to have relented 12 months on.

Real Madrid are edging ever closer to completing a big-money deal, with Modric believed to be undergoing a medical with the Primera Liga giants.

Villas-Boas hopes the matter will be brought to a close in the near future, allowing him to put the funds generated to good use in his search for a suitable replacement.

“No, this is not a distraction,” said the Portuguese tactician.

“We set out a plan for the player and we have stuck to it.

Discussions

“The player is training individually and he doesn’t disrupt our environment.

“I think we will have a conclusion in the next couple of weeks.

“We expect him here to train. He is still a Tottenham player but from what the chairman has told me talks are ongoing, they stalled a little bit two weeks ago, but they have picked up recently.”

Villas-Boas claims to already have transfer targets in mind, with it vital that Spurs move quickly to fill the creative void once Modric’s departure has been confirmed.

“Obviously we have outlined a couple of solutions,” he added.

“We have made initial contact with a couple of clubs but I think before this situation is resolved we can’t do anything because we already have a certain amount of players in that position.”

Modric set for Real switch

It is thought that the transfer could now be completed quickly after the clubs finally agreed a fee following months of uncertainty.

Reports suggest that a compromise has been reached that will see Real pay an initial fee of £23.6million, plus a further £3.9m in add-ons.

Tottenham are believed to have accepted Real’s offer now to give them enough time to sign a replacement before the window slams shut at the end of the month.

If the move goes through it would bring to an end a four-year spell at White Hart Lane for Modric, during which time he has developed into one of the Premier League’s most impressive performers.

Criticised

The Croatia international was linked with a move to Chelsea last summer but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy stood firm to keep him at the club.

However, intense speculation resurfaced ahead of the current transfer window and Modric made no secret of his desire to move on.

New Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas criticised Modric after he did not travel to the United States for their pre-season tour, and the 26-year-old has continued to train apart from the rest of the squad.

Villas-Boas has already strengthened his midfield with the signing of Gylfi Sigurdsson since replacing Harry Redknapp at the Tottenham helm, while Joao Moutinho has been linked with a move to join up with his former Porto manager.

Stimac blasts Levy over Modric

The 26-year-old is the Spanish club’s leading transfer target this summer but they have so far failed to meet Tottenham’s £40million valuation.

Modric refused to go on Spurs’ pre-season tour of America in an attempt to force through the deal and was fined by Tottenham for his actions.

Stimac has named his playmaker in his team for the clash against Switzerland on Wednesday evening and has criticised Levy for not keeping his word with the midfielder.

Promised

“Daniel Levy promised a year ago that if an offer from Madrid arrived he would let him go. And when the offer arrived he changed his opinion,” Stimac told Spanish newspaper AS.

“I think that this guy tries to make himself famous in the world of football, but this isn’t the way to do it.

“When you promise something you always need to fulfil it. It was the same with (Dimitar) Berbatov before he signed for Manchester United. He went there on August 31.”

Modric still has four years remaining on his present deal and Spurs are under no financial pressure to sell.

“He (Modric) has already made his decision and he’s very clear about what he’s going to do,” added Stimac.

“It’s the only thing he wants, to go to Madrid.

“Luka is a very sincere person, very sensitive, but very tough as well. He is very keen to play at Real Madrid and, as well as that, he has the promise of Levy. I only hope that this promise ends up being fulfilled.”

Jose – Call me the Unique One

The Portuguese boss labelled himself the ‘Special One’ during his time in charge of Chelsea between 2004-07, when he won back-to-back Premier League titles with the Blues.

But Mourinho feels he deserves a new status after becoming the first manager in history to win the title across Europe’s top three leagues.

“I’m the only one to have won the three biggest championships in the world,” he said in an interview on Portuguese television channel Sic.

“So whether it pleases or not, if one recognises my value or not… people should maybe call me ‘unique’ rather than ‘special’ until someone else wins three championships like me.”

Titles

The Portuguese coach joined Real Madrid in 2010 and won the Primera Liga title in his second season to become one of the few coaches to win titles in four different countries – Portugal, England, Italy and Spain.

He is also the only coach to have won two UEFA Champions League titles with two different clubs, with FC Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.

The 49-year-old said he felt “an enormous joy at Inter Milan” when they won their titles but says his ambitions are changing with age.

“I’m turning increasingly towards people,” he said. “That’s what motivates me more and more, instead of pursuing individual goals.”

Reds’ waiting game

That’s just one of the transfer stories coming out of Spain right now, as reports persist about the possibility of Nuri Sahin moving to Liverpool and Luka Modric swapping Spurs for Real Madrid.

La Liga expert Guillem Balague is across all of the latest development. Here’s his take on the headline news…

Reds target Tello

“Tello at the moment is an on-going situation. His agent wants to meet Barcelona today or tomorrow and after seeing what Barcelona want to offer – which is basically a ‘B team’ licence but with ‘A team’ wages.

“After that the agent will want to hear if Barcelona are going to play Tello a lot. It looks like he will be in the A Team sometimes, then in the B Team so the agent will talk to Barcelona about the possibility of moving on – either on loan or as a transfer.

“Atletico Madrid want him but the wage paid for him would be through an investment fund; the other team that is close to convincing him to move is Liverpool – not Arsenal, as has been published.

“Liverpool are optimistic that the player can go either on loan or as a transfer but it’s an on-going situation that has to be sorted – that’s what Barcelona want in the next couple of days.”

Sahin swayed by Alonso

“Can you imagine a midfield with Joe Allen, Sahin and Lucas Leiva? It would look really good. But of course they have to convince the player – that’s the situation as it stands now.

“Liverpool will want Sahin to come on loan; Real Madrid are happy to let him go – they tried to move him on loan last January. This summer they wanted him to be part of a transfer for Luka Modric but Sahin said no.

“But an interesting twist has developed in this story because it seems as though Xabi Alonso has convinced Sahin to move to Liverpool and now it will be a matter of negotiating that loan deal

“Again – it’s an on-going situation. Nothing has been sorted yet but Alonso’s work has been very helpful for Liverpool!”

Fernando Llorente’s future

“It’s possible we could see him in the Premier League but the situation is this: the chairman of Athletic Bilbao was talking yesterday in a press conference and saying that basically they don’t want to let him go for less than his buy-out clause, which is £36m Euros. A Spanish club would have to pay VAT on top of that.

“There is only one year left on his contract, which means that if somebody wants to negotiate cleverly they could get him for much less. The fact that Athletic Bilbao doesn’t need to sell immediately means that, as the chairman José Urrutia said yesterday, they won’t reduce that fee.

“We’ll have to see. What’s clear is that there have been clubs in the past who have been interested in him but no club has put in an offer, apart from Juventus – that’s the only one at the moment.”

Modric move meandering

“His position is very, very clear – he wants to go to Real Madrid; he wants to play for Jose Mourinho. Spurs’ position is very clear too – there’s a price for him. When Real Madrid pay it, he can go.

“As we know, Daniel Levy is the most difficult man to negotiate with in football – and it should be that way as he’s defending the interests of Spurs.

“As you can imagine, he has been portrayed in Spain as ‘the dark figure’ of this transfer but he’s doing what he has to do.

“What is very obvious is that Modric will do all he can to move to Real Madrid. He’s convinced that he will go to Real Madrid at some point but there is no date for it yet.

“Real Madrid aren’t expecting anything to happen this week and it could go down to the last few days of the transfer window.”

UEFA release award shortlist

The three nominated players received the most overall points from the first round of voting for the award which will be presented in Monaco on August 30th.

Iniesta and Messi, who both play for Barcelona, will be joined by Real Madrid forward Ronaldo on the short list, with Juventus’ Andrea Pirlo and Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez just missing out.

Bangor City’s Les Davies, who featured on the 32-man long list for the award, was another who did not make it to the final round.

The original list was drawn up by one selected journalist from each UEFA member country voting for five players.

Croatia boss expects Luka move

The unsettled playmaker has been the subject of intense transfer speculation, but as of yet no club have met Spurs’ asking price they are demanding for his signature.

Modric refused to travel to the United States for Spurs’ tour and has not been picked by new boss Andre Villas-Boas for any of the club’s other pre-season games since.

That has not gone down well with national head coach Igor Stimac, who plans to give the 26-year-old his first game of the summer on Wednesday when Croatia face Switzerland in Split.

“I don’t like the situation that he is in at all, he has not played any matches at all this summer,” Stimac was quoted as saying on AS.com.

The former West Ham defender said he is confident the player will leave White Hart before the end of the month, however, adding: “He will end up signing for Madrid before the market shuts.”

Tottenham already appear to be planning for life without Modric.

The Londoners signed Gylfi Sigurdsson from Hoffenheim earlier this summer, and it is understood they have launched a bid to sign hard-working Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila.

Although the capture of M’Vila would undoubtedly improve the strength of the Spurs squad, Villas-Boas’ main concern is in the striker department.

Offer

Jermain Defoe and rookie Harry Kane are the only strikers on Tottenham’s books as efforts to sign Emmanuel Adebayor and Leandro Damiao have so far failed.

Spurs have also made an offer for Gaston Ramirez, according to the Bologna forward’s agent.

“The only solid offer is the one from Tottenham, who offered €16 million [£12.6m],” Betancourt told Calciomercato.

“But the deal didn’t go through because Spurs offered too low a wage to the player and if the wage difference is minimal he would stay at Bologna.

“Tottenham could raise their offer if they sell Modric and in that case the deal could be done, otherwise Ramirez will stay another year at Bologna. We also talked with Liverpool but nothing more.

“Inter Milan are interested in the player, but cannot afford to offer cash as the teams in the Premier League.”

Dembele on Real radar

The Belgium international has been strongly linked with a move away from Craven Cottage this summer, with the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham believed to be monitoring his situation.

Now Real Madrid have made contact with Dembele’s representatives, with a view to making a move for the 25-year-old as they are yet to agree a deal with Tottenham for long-term target Modric.

And Dembele, who is currently on international duty with Belgium, has admitted that he knows Real have made contact.

Interest

“My manager has already talked with Real,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.

“There have been contacts between my agent and Real Madrid. They have wanted information and that was it.

“I cannot say much else about it – everything is calm, but I cannot say where I will be playing.”

Dembele, who arrived in England as a striker, has moved more and more into a midfield role where it is believed Real see him playing.

And he admits that is where he sees himself, adding: “I feel more of a midfielder than striker. It is even my favourite position.”

Sky Sports understands that Dembele could be leaving Craven Cottage this month, and Real’s interest could alert his English suitors.

We also understand that the fact Dembele has a release clause of less than £20million is an appealing factor.

Jose – Call me ‘Only One’

The tactician became the only coach to win the top three leagues in European football when he lifted the Spanish title with Real Madrid last season.

This followed two title wins in Italy with Inter Milan and a brace of titles in England with Chelsea, while he also lifted the title twice with Porto in his native Portugal.

The 49-year-old was nicknamed the ‘Special One’ by the English press after referring to himself as just that, during a news conference following his arrival at Chelsea from Porto in 2004.

But now he believes he deserves a new label.

Only one

“Like me or not, I am the only one who won the world’s three most important leagues. So, maybe instead of the ‘Special One’, people should start calling me the ‘Only One’,” Mourinho said in an interview with Portuguese television channel SIC.

In the interview televised on Monday, he admitted that, as his career has progressed, he has become less focused on his individual goals.

“Things have been going well for me, thank God. I am focused on others much more these days. The pleasure of winning (the UEFA Champions League) with Inter Milan was seeing a club which had not won for 50 years winning again.

“That is what entices me more and more, instead of pursuing individual goals.”

Real Madrid kick off their 2012-13 campaign against Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup on August 23.

Real ready for tough challenge

Real ended Barcelona’s recent dominance last term by winning the Primera Liga title but the challenge now is to defend their crown.

The UEFA Champions League also promises to be keenly contested as coach Jose Mourinho seeks to win the competition with a third different club, following his successes with Inter Milan in 2010 and Porto in 2004.

His second-in-command Karanka told reporters in Spain: “We have to find our best form because we face a big challenge and it’s going to be really tough from day one.

“We’re going to need all the players’ talent and commitment if we are to succeed.”

Limit

Real could not have asked for a better build-up to the current campaign, scoring 14 goals and conceding just once in their four-match tour of America.

“The players have finished the pre-season well and have all shown signs of being able to push themselves to the limit. The team has also performed well as a group, even in attack,” Karanka added.

“Each game has been fiercely competitive and with the quality of the players in the team things are turning out really well.

“We have to keep up the high work ethic and maintain a positive attitude towards earning a place in the line-up.”