Football

Five midfield maestros to replace Modric

Modric is ready to turn his back on Spurs (©GettyImages)
Modric is ready to turn his back on Spurs (©GettyImages).

The Luka Modric saga continues to drag on and on with no solution in sight as Real Madrid continue to hold firm while Tottenham remain resolute.

The Spanish outfit appear unwilling to go above £27 million in their valuation of the Croatian, a figure well short of the £40 million Spurs are demanding.

But perhaps more worryingly for Spurs fans is the lack of news over a potential replacement for Modric.

Joao Moutinho was initially touted as the man to step into Modric’s shoes but reports suggest the north London outfit have been scared off by his price tag, although the latest spate of rumours suggest the move could be back on.

But if a deal for the Porto midfielder is unable to be agreed – who are the men capable and filling the rather large hole left behind by Modric?

Santi Cazorla, Villarreal – Estimated price: £20 million

The man who appears best suited to the job of replacing Modric could be heading to north London soon – unfortunately for Spurs fans it is the red half he'll be joining.

Malaga’s Santi Cazorla was the marque signing for the Spanish club from Villarreal last summer as, backed by nouveau riche owners from the far east, they looked to bridge the gap to the big boys of La Liga, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Driven on by the immaculate Cazorla they did just that, securing a place in the Champions League by finishing 4th last season.

Now though his future is in doubt after it was revealed Cazorla’s wages hadn’t been paid in full (although Malaga say complaints from him and three of his team-mates have now been rescinded) and the latest reports say he is destined to join Arsenal.

Should he join their rivals it would be a huge blow for Spurs, especially given reports of their interest last week. The 27-year-old had remarkably similar passing stats to Modric last season, with Cazorla boasting a slightly lower pass accuracy percentage and key passes per game, but beating the Croatian when it comes to shots per game and interceptions.

The Spaniard is more familiar with playing out wide but is more than capable of playing through the middle and is an exceptional free-kick taker, something Tottenham were short of last season

Christian Eriksen, Ajax, Estimated price: £20 million

One of the most exciting young talents in Europe, Christian Eriksen has been attracting the interest of plenty big clubs for some time.

The Danish youngster was bought to the attention of England fans at least when he featured for his country against Fabio Capello’s side in 2011, pulling the strings for Denmark’s opening goal and putting in a commanding performance before Ashley Young and Darren Bent won the game for the Three Lions.

Before that however he had already been earmarked for greatness after becoming the youngest player at the World Cup in 2010, a year before he was named as the Danish player of the year. The 20-year-old also featured at Euro 2012.

Manchester United have been heavily linked with Eriksen over the past year, rumours which came as no surprise given his fine performances in a losing cause against the Red Devils for Ajax in last season’s Europa League. Sir Alex Ferguson even singled him out for praise ahead of their last 32 tie in February, comparing him to the greats of Ajax’s illustrious past.

Another who is as comfortable in the middle as he is out wide, Spurs may consider Eriksen to be a little too young to take on such a role as the heartbeat of their side, while the player himself has expressed a desire to stay in the Eredivisie for one more season.

Whether Spurs could actually land Eriksen given the interest shown in him by Manchester United remains to be seen, but his eye for a through ball in particular and ability to unlock defences is exactly what the Lilywhites require.

Joao Moutinho, Porto, Estimated price: £30 million

The man most likely to join Tottenham and become their creative hub – but the big question is, is he the man for the job?

Before that question can be answered however, the small matter of a transfer fee needs to be sorted out. Porto want around €30 million, Spurs don’t want to go much beyond €20 million, and so an impasse has been reached.

There is plenty of time for that to change however, and if they do get the price they want for Modric, then a deal closer to €30 million is likely to be struck.

So how do the two players compare? Moutinho impressed at Euro 2012 as Portugal made it to the semi-finals before coming undone against Spain, with his dynamism both going forward and backwards standing out.

Alongside Miguel Veloso, Moutinho worked wonderfully in front of Portugal’s defence to help nullify any attacking threat, while also driving his country forward and picking out Portugal’s array of fast runners off the ball.

Of course, it is not necessarily his defensive skills Tottenham seek, so can he hold a candle to Modric when it comes to his attacking skills?

There is a certain similarity between the pair on the ball; both are squat players with a low centre of gravity who can worm their way out of difficult situations with a drop of the shoulder.

Moutinho is undoubtedly a fine passer of the ball and picked up two assists at Euro 2012. His vision is excellent and although he tends to play longer passes that Modric, there is no doubt he could drop into Tottenham’s side with minimal disruption.

And if fans were worried that Luka Modric was the only midfielder in the world with an outrageous talent but a seemingly baffling inability to score goals, Moutinho has scored just four league goals since 2008.

Willian, Shaktar Donetsk, Estimated Price: £19 million

Reports this morning suggest Tottenham are ready to hijack Chelsea’s move for Shaktar Donetsk’s Willian, with a £19 million price tag slapped on his head by the Ukranian side.

Chelsea reportedly had a £25 million bid turned down for the playmaker, who can also operate out wide, in January.

The player himself is said to be keen on securing a move to one of Europe’s major leagues, something which has seemingly forced his employers to lower their price slightly.

Whether he would be considered a direct replacement for Modric is unlikely however; the 23-year-old can operate through the middle but is more of a wide player and likes to run with the ball, using his wide array of skills to trick his way past opponents. With Modric leaving, Spurs need a midfield metronome above all else.

Nuri Sahin, Real Madrid, Estimated Price: Part-exchange

Touted as a possible makeweight in Modric’s move to Real Madrid, Sahin would be an intriguing prospect for Tottenham should this unlikely move come to fruition.

Sahin, the Bundesliga’s player of the season before he departed for Real Madrid last summer, has more than his fair share of admirers despite an injury plagued season for Los Blancos.

His raking passes earned him a reputation as one of the finest playmakers in Germany and earned him a move to Madrid, but since then his progress has faltered dramatically thanks to injury.

Reports suggest Jose Mourinho has told Sahin he is no longer wanted at the Bernabeu while Modric’s presence would mean he is knocked further down the pecking order.

However the Turkish international says he wants to stay and fight for his place – and if he does move on Bayern Munich are reportedly in the hunt for his signature.

There is no doubt he is outrageously talented and could bring a new dimension to Tottenham, but this one seems a no-go.

Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
Football
Premier League
Luka Modric

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