Magisterial on the pitch they may be but inelegant so far have the actions of Robin van Persie and Luka Modric been.
For each man, it has transpired that being the heartbeat of two proud north London institutions is not enough. Robin van Persie, displaying all the class of a man breaking up a marriage, told the world in no uncertain terms that Arsenal were dead in the water and he no longer wanted anything to do them.
The past eight years since he joined the Gunners from Feyenoord as a tempestuously talented striker, in which only the most recent one has he excelled, mean little to him, despite his proclamation of love for the club following their final game of the last Premier League season against Wet Brom.
When he said afterwards that Arsenal would stay in his heart ‘no matter what’ alarm bells sounded. When he posted the most damning of statements on his official website the house was engulfed by flames.
If Arsenal seek solace from their predicament they need only glance across the Seven Sisters Road to see their rivals in chief wrestling with their own rebel without a clue.
It’s a case of Déjà vu for Tottenham as 12 months on from their battle to keep Luka Modric at White Hart Lane they have admitted defeat and will let the Croatian conjurer leave, if only for the right price.
After a classy showing at Euro 2012, Modric has his suitors - three if Andre Villas-Boas is to be believed - and has perhaps outgrown a Spurs side that as yet cannot offer him all his rich talent deserves. Real Madrid await.
And yet what appears to be an amicable parting of the ways is now being dragged through the mud while threatening to turn nasty.
Villas-Boas revealed chairman Daniel Levy was ‘angry’ after Modric reportedly refused to travel to America to take part in his club’s pre-season tour and refused to train, a decision which has thus far cost him in the region of £80,000.
For a second summer running Modric has kicked up a stink in an attempt to wriggle free of the tight leash Levy keeps him on thanks to the six year deal he signed in 2010.
At the time of signing Modric said he felt as though he could ‘achieve everything’ he wanted to in north London, and even admitted that even though other clubs were interested in his services it was not enough to sway his decision. How times have changed since then.
So the two transfers of north London assets will envelop much of the remaining 40 days of the summer transfer window. Neither men have covered themselves in glory and endeared themselves to their respective club’s fans, far from it. Indeed there is no way back for neither man – not that either one seeks it.
While both have rightly been chastised for the way in which they have gone so crassly about their business it’s perhaps is a more broad indictment upon the modern game rather than these two talented but misguided individuals that two similar situations such as these have come to pass.
If nothing else, it certainly raises questions about the type of man Modric is. All and sundry know his class on the pitch – it seems not a day goes by without a Madrid player extolling his virtues – but his actions off the pitch have certainly left a bad taste in the mouth for the second successive summer.
In fact he owes Harry Redknapp plenty after the former Spurs boss did such a good job of keeping him onboard and keeping the fans off his back despite him asking not to play in the City game as well as in the 3-1 defeat against Manchester United the following week at the start of last season.
Often Redknapp was heard insisting that Modric was no trouble and was a ‘good boy’, while even after that heavy opening defeat Redknapp convinced he was an innocent party having his head turned by unscrupulous agents.
It was enough to keep the fans happy and to coax some fine performances out of him. There will be no holding back from the Spurs faithful now it has been fully accepted he will leave.
But that does not mean Spurs, or Villas-Boas can take the moral high ground – in football there rarely is such a thing, at least legitimately.
Villas-Boas, for example, has the shoe firmly on the other foot a year on from being the Chelsea boss who courted Modric while the Spurs player contributed solely to the ‘bad atmosphere’ around Spurs as Redknapp put it, yet now he rues that a similar situation has arisen once more.
And Levy, for all his ‘anger’ at Modric and his accusations towards Manchester United that they tapped up Dimitar Berbatov before his move to Old Trafford in 2008, is no angel; the installment of Juande Ramos as manager in 2007 prompted the threat of a formal complaint from Sevilla while ex-Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan still smarts over John Bostock’s move to White Hart Lane.
Above all else though, beyond the squabbling and morality, had Tottenham secured Champions League football last season there is a greater chance Modric would have stayed put, or at least given themsleves a bargaing chip to lure him back with. In that respect, Tottenham are the architects of their own downfall.
Arsenal can hardly be blameless either in Van Persie’s revelation he will not sign a new contract – why they stick with a policy of allowing their best players to near the end of their contract before trying to negotiate is baffling.
They can have no complaints if, at 28-years-old, the Dutchman has decided he wants to add more silverware to his trophy cabinet and can negotiate a move to a bigger club thanks to the momentum garnered from his excellent campaign last time round as revisionism continues to grip the Emirates. In football careers are short and memories even shorter.
Regardless, it is the club’s duty to protect their assets as emotional ties between player and club dwindle to nothing, and it appears the Gunners have failed to do just that. Their their seven-year trophy drought only serves to make Van Persie’s itch all the more scratchable.
Rivals they may be but in both cases, Tottenham and Arsenal can have no real reason for complaint as both players move closer to the exit.
Arsenal find themselves in a much more precarious situation but neither they nor their north London rivals can truly complain with the current uncertainty surrounding their leading lights.
Both have grand ideas for the coming season; only recently Wenger spoke of his belief that Arsenal can compete at the very top of the Premier League while still wearing their financial straight-jacket. Tottenham, with Villas-Boas at the helm are now beggining stage two of their search to return glory to the club. But both will have to do it without two very good players indeed. And when it boils down, they have only themsleves to blame.
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