Thursday, April 24, 2008

Luka warm on Toon*

Ah, the magic of football. In mid-March, we were contemplating the very real prospect of relegation from the Premier League. A month later, and we're salivating at the fact that we somehow seem to have stolen a march on the cream of Europe in the pursuit of one of the continent's brightest young talents.

Croatian Luka Modric may not be a defender, but other than that he's exactly what we need - a prodigiously talented creative midfielder with his best years ahead of him. His arrival might potentially mean curtains for our 4-3-3 and Little Saint Mick's new withdrawn role, but it'd be a tasty dilemma to have, and in any case, counting chickens and all that.

My very first thought, though, was (and I'm not ashamed to admit being a realist here) why would he choose us over some of the other clubs who've been credited with a serious interest in him? It's been suggested that it was Dennis Wise who won him and Dinamo Zagreb vice-president Zdravko Mamic over - but (and this is possibly a first) the words of the Sun's unnamed source can be taken with a much smaller pinch of salt. Apparently, Modric's international team-mate Niko Kranjcar has sold him on England (the nation whose Euro 2008 hopes they jointly dashed in November, of course), and their manager Slaven Bilic has responded enthusiastically to the possible move in a way that's unlikely to amuse our old friend Harry Hotspur: "It's more likely that Newcastle will be English champions than Tottenham. Luka wouldn't be making a mistake if he signs for the Magpies".

The deal-clincher looks set to be a familiar one, though, the source having commented: "The money Newcastle are offering is fantastic"... That no doubt applies to both the player's wages and the transfer fee for his current club alike. The figures being bandied about for the latter are anything from a relatively sober £12m to a club-record-shattering £20m. Is he that good? Perhaps we should just be thankful that we may well have the opportunity to decide...

* If he does sign, we'll be able to wheel out all those old "Look who's talking" puns last used for Albert Luque. Remember him?


Good thing we didn't count those chickens: Modric has signed for Spurs for £15.8m. Bollocks. Interesting to hear that Bilic has completely changed his tune...

Not so long ago we were crowing about beating the North Londoners to the signing of Damien Duff, but, having since lost out to them for both Jonathan Woodgate and now Modric, it seems as though the pulling power of White Hart Lane and Juande Ramos in particular is stronger. Not good news, as we're quite likely to end up going head-to-head with them for defensive reinforcements in the summer too...


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