Modric finally off to Madrid


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR have targeted Moussa Dembele of Fulham to reinforce their midfield after finally sanctioning the €37 million sale of Luka Modric to Real Madrid, while they have had a €16 million offer accepted by Lyon for goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Dembele is hot property, particularly after his eye-catching performance in his team’s 3-2 defeat at Manchester United on Saturday. The manager Andre Villas-Boas’s midfield priority has been Joao Moutinho of Porto, but his €30 million price-tag is a deterrent and the Portuguese club are not inclined to accept less.

Tottenham are also pushing for the Shakhtar Donetsk attacking midfielder Willian and they have had an €12.5 million bid rejected for him. The club are conscious they are short of cover for Aaron Lennon on the right flank, while they also continue to explore the possibility of deals for Rennes’ holding midfielder Yann M’Vila and the Internacional striker Leandro Damiao.

Villas-Boas does not consider M’Vila a potential replacement for Modric, as he is more defensively-minded. “On the possible replacements for Luka, we are looking for a more creative player,” he said. Dembele would appear to fit the bill.

Considered an attacking midfielder, he has flourished as one of the two central players in Martin Jol’s Fulham formation.

He is known for his ability to drive forward with the ball at his feet and beat players, as well as his eye for a pass. But he can also win possession.

Tottenham, though, will encounter resistance from Fulham, who would be loath to sell the 25-year-old unless an offer of at least €19 million were to come in. Dembele’s Fulham contract runs until 2013 but the club have the option of a further year.

Tottenham have, however, fared better on the goalkeeping front, as an offer has been accepted by Lyon for Hugo Lloris, the France number one. He has been Villas-Boas’s goalkeeping target since he arrived at Tottenham.

The club offered €14 million for him in July, which was rejected, and they had baulked at going much higher. They investigated the possibility of signing Internazionale’s Julio Cesar, who is available at a fraction of Lloris’s price.

But they have returned with an acceptable offer and the Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has given them permission to talk to Lloris over personal terms.

“I had contact with Daniel Levy [the Tottenham chairman] on Sunday and the position between the two clubs has got closer,” Aulas said. “I have told Hugo about the discussions with Tottenham and everything is in his hands. The decision is his.”

Modric’s move to Madrid has brought the curtain down on one of the summer’s most high-profile transfer sagas. The Croatia playmaker learned of Madrid’s interest before the European Championship and has endured a long wait, as Levy held out for as close to €40 million as possible.

Levy has accepted rather less, although he suggested he was glad Modric had gone to Madrid and not a domestic rival. Chelsea had tried to sign him last summer only for Levy to reject their offer of €38 million plus the Brazilian defender Alex.

Modric refused to go on Tottenham’s pre-season tour of the US and trained away from the first team group. But the eventual parting was amicable, with Tottenham wishing him well for the future.

“There are no hard feelings from my side,” Modric said, “and I think it’s the same with Tottenham. Everyone thought there was something bad between us but it was nothing bad. I thank everyone at Spurs.”

Tottenham have signed a partnership agreement with Real Madrid similar to the London club’s tie-ups with Internacional in Brazil, South China FC in Hong Kong, SuperSport United in South Africa and San Jose Earthquakes in the US.

The agreement will permit Tottenham’s coaches to visit Madrid to study training techniques, and vice versa. It will also allow the clubs to swap ideas on commercial strategy, and young players might be loaned between them.

Guardian Service

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