Wednesday August 31, 2011. It is transfer deadline day and Chelsea bid £40 million (€45m) for Tottenham playmaker Luka Modric. To the surprise of many, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy rejects the offer despite being fully aware his prized asset pined for the bright lights of one of the Premier League's 'big clubs'.
Many felt it was the right time to let the former Dinamo Zagreb youth product move on, and Modric's performances during the 2011-12 campaign vindicated those thoughts. After winning the Fan's Player of the Year the season before, the 26-year-old was a shadow of his former self for large spells of last term.
Modric still made 38 appearances for Spurs in all competitions and there were some brighter moments in a season Harry Redknapp's men finished fourth in the Premier League. But still, it was a disappointing campaign for the diminutive star.
With his form for the national side fairly average, there was more hope rather than expectation that Modric would return to form heading into Sunday's crunch Euro 2012 encounter with the Republic of Ireland.
|His importance in Croatia's display should never be underestimated, and his pass completion was over 90 per cent in an impressive display. The movement of the Spurs midfielder was a joy to watch.|
Many identified the centre of the field as the area where the Balkan nation could outclass their Irish counterparts. Many felt it was Croatia's to lose if Modric stepped up to the plate. The thing is, it was a big if.
Modric looked assured from the off, spraying passes left, right and centre, and it wasn't long until Slaven Bilic's men took the lead, three minutes in fact as Mario Mandzukic's well-placed header found the back of the net. Ireland may have equalised through Sean St. Ledger yet the Croatian playmaker continued to play his own game at his own speed, dictating play in the middle as he ensured he was central to all that was good about his nation's attacking game.
Croatia would go on to take the lead once again through Nikica Jelavic before Mandzukic added his second of the match just after the break to wrap up the three points. Still, one man stood out from the rest. Boasting a pass success rate of 93 per cent, Modric purred like a finely-tuned engine.
However Croatia fare against Italy and then Spain, it appears the Modric of old is back and that is sure to alert several suitors. Chelsea may well come back in for the midfielder, whilst Manchester United have long admired the playmaker.
Either way, what is for sure is that the 26-year-old has firmly put himself back in the shop window.