"I would not be sure Luka would start the season at Tottenham. The club would be happy to sell if they get the right money. The chairman said to him last year 'Give us one more season and if Real come in, I won't stand in your way'."
If Harry Redknapp is reappearing like the Ghost of Christmas Past to shed some light on how the Luka Modric saga has reached its current impasse, then that would cast Daniel Levy in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. The Spurs chairman is, of course, renowned for his unflinching commitment to securing the best possible terms for the club in the transfer market. In recent weeks, however, Modric has been trying to be just as firm in his resolve to leave White Hart Lane.
Unfortunately that resolution has taken the form of behavior that has resulted in disciplinary action by the club. It's not easy to unpick the rights and wrongs of the situation. Although he's now being subjected to all sorts of criticism and name-calling, Modric makes a somewhat unlikely prima donna. Almost exactly a year ago, when the prospective suitors were Chelsea rather than Real Madrid, Redknapp was quick to praise the Croatian's attitude:
"He's the last lad in the world that would ever cause a problem. He hasn't got it in him to be nasty, he's a nice lad. I’ve come across players who would want to go who would be a real problem, but that's not his nature. He is not a trouble-maker in any way shape or form."
That was then, this is now, and frankly at the present moment it's difficult to picture Modric once again lining up in the Spurs midfield. Andre Villas-Boas has expressed the view that if the club's asking price is not met by the Spanish giants, he fully expects Modric to take his place in the team. Circumstances, of course, mean that he can say nothing else.
Clearly a sale would suit all parties at this point and presumably there is a comfort zone somewhere between the £40 million being asked for and the £30 million being offered. As is almost always the case in this sort of stalemate, other deals are effectively put on hold pending its outcome. Spurs reportedly remain interested in signing Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, with the player's father (and agent) suggesting that a deal will be done once the money for Modric has been banked. The situation with Emmanuel Adebayor also remains up in the air, although the issue in this case may be more to do with wages than a transfer fee.
What is certain is that in a little over a week from now, Spurs will travel to Newcastle for the season opener. Whether or not Luka Modric will be there to see it - or to take part in it - is a whole other question.