JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 23: Manager Harry Redknapp greets Luka Modric of Tottenham during the 2011 Vodacom Challenge final match between Orlando Pirates and Tottenham Hotspur at Coca Cola Stadium on July 23, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
So, the disappointment from losing Javier Pastore has abated a touch, and we need to figure out what Chelsea are going to do next. well, actually we don't, but it's interesting to write about, so I'm sort of obligated to try. Fortunately, the Blues are giving us some clues to play around with. Here's a pre-clue: The Luka Modric pursuit isn't over just yet. Take it away, Ron Gourlay...
I don't like talking about players from other clubs, but [the Luka Modric deal (ed note: Luka Modric plays for Tottenham Hotspur, which is another club) is] something we'll look at during the week and we'll take it from there. We really need to sit down with [Andre Villas-Boas] and talk this through. Even though we've been travelling away you can still be active in the marketplace nowadays.
-Ron Goulay, Chelsea CEO. Source: Sky Sports.
I mentioned more than a few times that I personally favoured a creative midfielder capable of playing higher up the pitch that Modric, but now that Pastore's out of the picture, Modric makes at least a semi-attractive fall back plan. There's no denying he's a phenomenally talented player who would instantly make the team better, and I think there's also no question that the team needs central midfield help with Michael Essien down for much of the season. There is, then, no problem with Luka Modric, Chelsea player.
As with everything, the problem lies in opportunity cost. Acquiring Modric would be an upgrade, but at the price Spurs are setting (which I guess is infinity, based on their public comments) one has to wonder if it's really worth it. Josh McEachran appears to be a poor man's version of Modric already, and he's not going to cost an absurd amount of money on account of already being on the team.
With the amount of effort Andre Villas-Boas has put into pumping up the McEachran hype machine so far this summer, I'd be more than a little surprised if the manager condoned spending £30-40M on dropping a Modric in front of him. Chelsea's holes are obvious, and although there's a distinct lack of passing incisiveness in the squad, in the long run deep-lying playmaker is not one of those holes.
That's not to say I wouldn't welcome Modric to Stamford Bridge with open arms, no matter the price Chelsea paid to acquire him. He's the type of player who can bring a grin to your face even if you root for the opposition, and he's good enough that even Paul Scholes felt the need to shower him with compliments. But there's always a part of me that says we should be allocating our resources in the most effective manner, and that means that the Blues shouldn't be spending more than £25M and then £100k a week on Luka Modric.
I don't know if Gourlay and Villas-Boas will see things my way in their meeting. I can't pretend to have their knowledge of Chelsea's finances or the true state of the roster, so I'll probably accept whatever they decide is best (but protest just in case I get an 'I told you so' in down the line). But nothing about the likely price of a Modric deal suggests to me that it would be a good idea for Chelsea to pursue at this point.
PS: As an aside, the rumours of a new bid for Modric are almost certainly false in light of the above statements, since Villas-Boas has spent most of the past 24 hours on the plane from Hong Kong and won't have had time to have a meeting with anyone.