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Let's Chat It Out Bro: Kevin And Bryan Debate Luka Modric's Possible Departure

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Last night, Bryan Ashlock and I were sitting around screwing around on the computer. Okay, Bryan was actually doing things and I was screwing around on the computer. I made him find a computer to talk to me about the Luka Modric saga. This is the result.

Kevin McCauley: Every day, the Luka Modric saga gets more ridiculous. I still think he's going to get sold during this transfer window, but no one can claim to know what's going to happen at this point, so debating whether or not he will go is pointless. What isn't pointless, though, is debating who's in the wrong and whether or not Tottenham Hotspur should let Modric leave if a reasonable bid comes in.

Bryan Ashlock: I totally agree. It's only a matter of time until Luka is playing somewhere else. But I think determining who is wrong here is pretty difficult. This isn't a black and white issue. There's a lot of gray area. Lots of it has to do with the state of modern football and where the power lies in the player-club relationship.

Kevin McCauley: Yeah, absolutely. I guess I'm on the side of the players most of the time, and I'm not a fan of holding guys hostage. I understand that Modric signed a contract, but in other industries, people can find a way out of a contract if their company goes downhill. I don't think Spurs are down in the dumps, but missing Champions League is a big deal. A richer club with Champions League football wants him, so I feel like Daniel Levy should at least attempt to negotiate.

Bryan Ashlock: And, as usual, I'm the opposite. I've worked for pro sports teams and I tend to side with the team and the owners as a result. I get that contracts don't mean much in sports anymore, which is an issue for another time, so the point that Luka has four more years is a moot point. The issue for me is that in the spring he committed to the club and here we are, not even four months later and you want out? I understand the desire to win trophies or even the desire to earn more money, I really do, but where is the loyalty? It's something that endemic in sports today. We're not going to see many more Ryan Giggs or Ledley Kings and from a fans perspective that's disheartening.

Kevin McCauley: I would be okay with it if Daniel Levy did something like, say, Manchester City did with Carlos Tevez. They set a price, Corinthians bid about £10m less than their asking price, and City rejected the bid. If someone gets a little closer to the asking price, they'll negotiate. Levy's just completely unwilling to do any negotiating. He's said the player is not for sale multiple times, then rejected a written transfer request. I know that Luka Modric willingly signed a contract and that he's a millionaire, but when your boss rejects your request to leave outright without explanation and refuses to negotiate with other companies that want to hire you, it starts to resemble indentured survitude.

Bryan Ashlock: Well, to be fair, I don't think Levy or the club have made their views known with regard to the transfer request. Harry, in typical Harry fashion, has said it doesn't mean much to him, but we've yet to hear from Levy. I honestly think that some club, whether it's Chelsea or Barcelona or whoever, are going to test Levy's resolve. At some point someone will hit the £30-35 million pound range and then Levy will have to do some thinking. I think until we have an offer in that range there's no point in negotiating. If Abramovich wants to lowball us and try to unsettle Modric, which he's clearly done, let him. Eventually he's going to have to pay market value.

Kevin McCauley: Well, the market determines market value, not Daniel Levy. If Chelsea is the only team bidding for him, it would be a bit ridiculous to say that they're lowballing at £27m, wanting to pay well under market value. I don't want Spurs to sell Modric for less than £35m, but it's a bit out there to say that £27m isn't market value when very few teams have that kind of money and no one else is currently bidding. You would think that if £35m was 'market value,' Manchester United, Manchester City and Barcelona would have come in with bids of £25m after Chelsea bid £22m.

Bryan Ashlock: I suppose. I think all of us, as fans, especially those of us that play Football Manager always have a valuation of a player in mind. Given that we paid £16.5 million for him I'd like to double that. It's unfortunate that we're not really seeing any other big money moves so that we could establish a baseline. If players like Fabregas or Hamsik were on the move we could say, "Look Barcalona paid £50 for Cesc, Luka is worth at least £30."

Kevin McCauley: Well, even though they don't play the same position, the moves that Liverpool made for Jordan Henderson and Stuart Downing accomplish that to some point. If those guys are both worth £20m, I'd have a hard time believing that Modric wasn't at least worth £30m. Though, those guys are English.

Bryan Ashlock: Yeah. There's a premium for English players. On a side note. If the transfer fee for Ashley Young is close to the alleged £16-18 million how crazy is it that those two are worth more?

Kevin McCauley: I think it's absolutely bonkers, and further proof that Alex Ferguson is absolutely the best manager in the history of English football. Yes, I didn't watch the teams of Matt Busby, Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley, but he has to be in the neighborhood. But, that's neither here nor there. Though, while we're on the subject of Manchester United: How are they not in for Modric? He's a much better fit for them than Sneijder. Modric isn't quite the class of Paul Scholes in his prime, but I think he's the closest thing to Scholes that the Premier League has at the moment, besides possibly Cesc Fabregas.

Bryan Ashlock: He clearly fits in the role that Scholes played, but I think the coin purse is empty at Old Trafford. I think the Glazers told Fergie he had £40-50 million and he went out and got David De Gea, Ashley Young, and Phil Jones and now there's nothing left. Manchester United is a big club, but they have HUGE debt. Even the sale of more players like John O'Shea and Wes Brown isn't going to give Fergie enough money for Modric. I think Chelsea might be the only Premier League club in for him.

Kevin McCauley: We're getting off topic and we'll return to Luka soon, but United just agreed to wages with Sneijder. They might not pry him out of Milan, but they wouldn't even be talking if they didn't have at least another £20m in the bank.

Bryan Ashlock: Well, if they're that far along with Sneijder then I think that answers our question. They're determined to get that deal done. Back to Luka, I can't decide if it's better for the club if this drags out longer or not. Obviously, the longer this goes on the more chance the club has to bring in a player or two that might convince Luka to stay. On the other hand having one disgruntled Croatian around might not be good for the rest of the squad. If only we had done some business earlier in the window...

Kevin McCauley: I think that, at this point, the best course of action is to say "Fine, £45m" and see if anyone "bites" by bidding £35m as a starting point. If no one comes close, then we can tell Luka that we set a price and no one came close. If no one bids, we keep a less pissed off version of Luka. If someone bids, we got what he's worth, if not a bit more. Either way, it's better than the current situation.

Bryan Ashlock: I don't think there is any way, after all the posturing, that Levy comes out and sets a price. I think he'll listen to offers, but he's going to have to be blown away. I'm really convinced that this is all happening because we think we're a big club. I made this point earlier this week, but Blackburn Rovers played in the Champions League once. Here's a quick list of clubs with more first division titles than Spurs: Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackburn, Newcastle United, Chelsea, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Everton, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United. 10 teams with more titles than us! We have these delusions of grandeur and they might be precisely what's holding us back.

Kevin McCauley: Yeah, we're the 5th or 6th biggest club in England by any standard you apply. Revenues, profits, ticket sales, trophies, realistic short term ambitions, notoriety in foreign markets. It doesn't matter what standard you apply, we're not as big as Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, or Chelsea. At this point in time, we're not bigger than City either.

Bryan Ashlock: And we don't pay the kind of wages those clubs do either. I applaud Levy for the job he's done financially with this club. We're not in a fair fight, but we're doing alright for ourselves, but the old saying is you have to spend money to make money and the clubs seems reluctant to do just that. This club cannot handle another stagnant period in the transfer window, hell the fans can't. If Luka leaves, that needs to be the impetus for player purchases.

Kevin McCauley: Well, the club can't handle another stagnant period and match their rhetoric. Their rhetoric is that we need to contend with the Big Four of the 2000s and Manchester City. If they said that we can't compete with those clubs before we get the NDP done, which would honestly be understandable. I don't really want the club to spend money they don't have, and it's not like we have any way of knowing how much money they have available. Spurs have plenty in assets and they're not going broke anytime soon, but do they have £30m to spend on a striker without selling Luka? We have no way of knowing this.

Bryan Ashlock: Well, we have a decent idea of how the club is doing, but in terms of specific money available you're right. They release their annual earning reports (one of the benefits of the club being publicly traded) and we know that all that money from the Champions League has to be somewhere, doesn't it? All I know is that the whole Luka Modric saga is no where even close to over. This is going to drag out all the way to deadline day I'm sure of it.

Kevin McCauley: So, two questions before we wrap this up. There might be a 1a and 1b depending on your answer. Question No. 1: Will Luka Modric be sold?

Bryan Ashlock: Yes. Luka Modric will be sold.

Kevin McCauley: 1b: What will the final price be, and where will he go?

Bryan Ashlock: I want to think we'll get £35 million, but you and your damn logic have convinced me otherwise. I really think Chelsea will be the only club in for him and he'll go for £28 million, perhaps with a player included.

Kevin McCauley: Question No. 2: Will Tottenham spend £20m or more on a striker after selling Luka Modric?

Bryan Ashlock: I think we will buy a striker, but I don't think we'll spend £20 million. Vucinic from Roma is only being valued at 20 million Euro, which I think is somewhere around £18 million and I really think he's probably as likely as anyone to come to London.

Kevin McCauley: I agree, and I wouldn't mind seeing Vucinic in white one bit. Good chat, brohan.