BLACKPOOL ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22: Luka Modric of Tottenham Hotspur trips over Richard Kingson of Blackpool as he shoots towards goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Bloomfield Road on February 22 2011 in Blackpool England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
By now this story is so familiar that it's considered an elemental plot. Croatian plays well. Team makes Champions League. Croatian signs long, massively under market value contract. Team falls out of Champions League. Croatian realises he's worth at least twice as much money and tries to leave. Team says no. Bloodbath ensues.
While we haven't gotten to the point where Luka Modric starts engaging in physical battles with the rest of his teammates (for some reason I envision him wielding a flail with not inconsiderable aplomb), it's not exactly all sweetness and light between him and Tottenham Hotspur at the moment. Modric is of course signed to a contract worth 45,000 a week over the next five seasons, but with Spurs looking increasingly as though they can't compete with the big boys at the business end of the table (no shame there, they're still a very good team), the midfielder is looking to vastly improve on those wages with a more competitive team.
That team, of course, is Chelsea - but Tottenham are having absolutely none of it. Modric, for his part, is insisting that there was some sort of gentleman's agreement with Daniel Levy when he signed his most recent deal last summer that said if a big club made an approach, Spurs would have to consider it. The Blues obviously knew about that friendly handshake and sent in a bid to make it happen, but I don't think they were prepared for the vehemence of Levy's reaction. Modric certainly wasn't.
There's a school of thought that says that if Modric isn't happy at his club, he shouldn't be bound to stay there. For me, this is a little bit silly. He signed a contract, and he's bound to it - he can retire and work in a different field, but he cannot force a switch and still play in a FIFA sanctioned league. The ability to unilaterally breach a contract would absolutely destroy the structure of football, accelerating even further the talent drain from small clubs to big.
But wait a second. There is a way to for players to break contracts unilaterally. It's called a 'release clause', and it's not like it's a particularly uncommon thing to include in a contract. Why wasn't it there?
A picture is emerging. Behind the scenes, as two clubs bicker over a player, a villainous figure looms. He, not Tottenham or Chelsea, is the root cause of the strife. His name? Nikky Vuksan. Agent Nikky Vuksan.
What makes him so evil? Well this whole situation is his fault. Modric should be making enough money to be happy at Spurs. He's not. He should have a release clause rather than a gentleman's agreement. He doesn't. If we want to rule out gross incompetence as the reason behind the horrible deal that Modric signed in 2010, we're left with evil. Complete and utter evil.
Vuksan has conned Modric out of millions of pounds and caused great strife for Tottenham fans. He's forced me to write about 4,000 words that could have been spent relaying anecdotes about quantum loop gravity or something. He's eaten thousands of work hours worth of time around the world, all because he didn't bother negotiating a decent contract for his client.
The 'gentleman's agreement' is a load of tosh. If Modric wanted a chance to leave, he should have signed a contract with that set in stone. Now we're left in a battle to the death against him for Tottenham, and it's going to leave all parties involved in a horrible mess. But if you're looking for someone to blame... well, don't put it on Chelsea being greedy or Spurs being unreasonable. Fault should fall squarely on the shoulders of Vuksan. What a bastard.