The deal to send 22-year old Dinamo Zagreb captain Luka Modrić to England was all but set in stone. Dinamo’s directors even held a press conference on December 29th in Zagreb to send him on his way and announce which English Premier League team he would be joining. Top tier teams Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City were all in contention for the rights to Modrić for rumored amounts of up to €50 million.
At the press conference, Dinamo Zagreb sporting director Zoran Mamić announced that he will not be selling the up and coming midfielder to any English club no matter how much money they were willing to spend. English team owners and managers were extremely upset and embarassed with this decision by Mamić which has created incredible friction between the two sides for any future player dealings.
This has to be one of the most selfish and stupidest acts I have seen by team management in professional sports. Dinamo had it set up perfectly to send one of their star players to the Premiership once again after transferring Brazilian-born Croatian international Eduardo da Silva to current Premiership leaders Arsenal in the summer and Vedran Ćorluka to Manchester City in early 2007. Croatia’s Niko Kranjčar also plays in England for Portsmouth.
The Croatian international side pulled an amazing win in November at Wembley to shatter England’s hopes for a Euro 2008 berth. We are slowly gaining back the form we had in France in 1998. Croatians worldwide know we can compete with the best clubs in the world; but the stats don’t lie- we haven’t been out of the first round in a major tournament since our ‘dream team’ in ’98. Croatia can once again gain the respect of the world if we play our cards right, but this move by Mamić not to send Modrić to a contending English club is a huge mistake and I’m sure it will come back to hurt players’ chances in future transfer windows with Premiership clubs- but only time will tell as we watch Modrić wear Dinamo blue for at least one more year.
Here’s a video of Luka Modrić and his story on how he got to the top.