We all had to sit through an entire summer of speculation about whether Luka Modric would leave Tottenham Hotspur for Chelsea. It got to the point that even fans of both clubs and even those who supported neither club just wanted a resolution to the saga because the incessant speculation became horribly annoying. Well, get ready for it again.
With a player as good as Modric at a club with as strict a wage structure as Spurs, the speculation about whether the Croatian will be sold or not is never going to go away and this summer will be no exception. Chelsea may get involved again, although they would only be a realistic option of they manage to snag fourth place and a Champions League spot. Manchester United could and really should get involved. There is also the possibility of some other team in the Champions League coming in with a big money bid. Modric will be the center of speculation again.
Obviously with the Champions League in Tottenham's future and a new contract with a hefty raise reportedly in Modric's future, it will take more to pry Modric away from White Hart Lane than before, but how much more and is it simply a matter of money?
What Tottenham have to decide is how much Modric is worth to them. Last summer, chairman Daniel Levy insisted that there was no price on Modric because he was staying no matter what, but was that true? Levy is a shrewd negotiator and while he undoubtedly would have liked to keep Modric, he could just as well have been also raising the bar for what it would take to sign him away.
If Chelsea had bid £50 million would Levy have sold? Would Levy have sold if Chelsea had been a bit more, let's call it graceful, about the whole matter?
Of all the matches, Sunday's draw in the FA Cup against Stevenage might have been the match that increased the price on Modric or even put him in the "untouchable" range. Harry Redknapp blamed the pitch and Gary Smith's football-killing tactics didn't help, but when Spurs failed time and time again to pass the ball through the middle or just bypassed it all with a hoof upfield, all it did was reinforce one thing. Luka Modric is Tottenham's most important player.
It was just a League One club and it was a bad pitch and whatever else you want to bring up, but what the Spurs team that took to the pitch in Stevenage wasn't all too different than past Spurs teams that played without Modric. They were completely incapable of dictating and controlling tempo and looked downright lost in attempting to play through the midfield.
Gareth Bale is a downright scary winger for opponents to go up against and Rafael van der Vaart is as skillful as they come. Scott Parker is nothing short of a machine and Spurs can look impenetrable with Ledley King in defense. There is a lot to be said for a lot of the great players at Tottenham, but none of them can match the importance to the team of Modric and that was evident on Sunday.
Modric controls matches for Spurs. He is the only players really effective at linking from the back to the front and his ability to play great passes short, long, left, right or diagonal gets defenses retreating and attacking and whatever else it is they do not want to do. Modric opens up the entire game for Spurs and allows those other fantastic players to be at their best. When he is not out there, well, Spurs are the team that took the pitch on Sunday or against Manchester United on the first day of the season.
So is Modric really untouchable? Was Levy being honest when he said that Modric was not for sale at any price? Presumably, that would mean he is also untouchable this summer, meaning Modric has no price to Spurs. He is, for lack of a better, less cheesy word, priceless.