Published in Nacional number 650, 2008-04-29

Autor: Dean Sinovčić

The truth behind Modric’s transfer

Midnight transfer at Hotel Westin

The president of Tottenham, Daniel Levy, unexpectedly flew to Zagreb via private jet on Friday 25 April and presented his final offer for Luka Modric to Zdravko Mamic at Hotel Westin

Luka Modric and Zoran Mamic posing for Nacional at Tottenham’s stadium, White Heart Lane, on Monday 28 ApriLuka Modric and Zoran Mamic posing for Nacional at Tottenham’s stadium, White Heart Lane, on Monday 28 Apri Late Friday evening, thirty minutes after midnight, Zdravko Mamic called Luka Modric from Zagreb’s Westin hotel and asked him one question: ˝Do you still want to become a player for Tottenham?” Modric gave him a short confirmation. “Then consider yourself to be a Tottenham player from this point on”, said Mamic, who then hung up the telephone, turned to Daniel Levy, the 46-year old President of Tottenham, who flew to Zagreb in his Cessna Citation in complete secrecy that same evening: “We can sign the contract.” Singing the contract where Dinamo receives €23 million in compensation from Tottenham completed the ten month battle for Luka Modric between the largest European clubs, one of the best and most sought after European football players. Tottenham has never paid so much in compensations for any player, Dinamo has never made such a good trade, but all events which occurred over the past ten months surrounding Modric resembled a thriller movie.

Even though it has been a well known fact over the past two years that Modric is a high quality football player, the first concrete offer for him was received by Mamic last year at the beginning of July after Arsenal signed a contract with Eduardo da Silva. At that exact moment, Arsèn Wenger, Arsenal’s coach, told Mamic that he was very interested in Modric. At the end of July 2007, Zoran and Zdravko Mamic were invited to London and found themselves on the guest list for the traditional Emirates Cup tournament involving Arsenal, Inter, Paris Saint Germain and Valencia. Wenger repeated that he wanted Modric in Arsenal at that time because of his European ambitions, but the Mamic brothers refused so quickly that Wenger did not even manage to tell how much money he was willing to offer for Modric.

In November, negotiations once again began around Modric because Chelsea became interested in him. In mid November, Britain’s Daily Mail published an article stating that Chelsea was offering £15 million for him, even though, as we have learned, the procedure for this offer was quite different. Zdravko Mamic flew to London on a private jet at that time and resided in the private villa of Roman Abramovic, Chelsea’s owner. Abramovic offered Mamic €5 million for Chelsea to have the right to make the first offer, and the final price would be agreed at a later date. Mamic refused, and when Abramovic realized that the Executive President of Dinamo would not back down, he offered him £15 million, as reported by the Daily Mail, which totalled €21 million at the end of November. This was also rejected because Tottenham first appeared as a serious buyer at the time, represented by Sports Director Damien Comolli. In December, Mamic was also contacted by representatives of Manchester City, club owner Thaksin Shinawatra from Thailand and Swedish coach Sven-Göran Eriksson, as well as a representative from Newcastle, Vice President Tony Jiménez who is in charge of purchasing new players. Instead of backing down with these offers, the Mamic brothers made a sensational announcement at a press conference several days before the New Year that Modric would remain in Dinamo for another year and that he would be sold after 1 January 2009.

As we have uncovered, the Mamic brothers flew to England three days prior to releasing this information and spoke with representatives from Tottenham, Manchester City and Newcastle. In the end, they told everyone that Modric was not for sale. Furthermore, on the day before this press conference, they were contacted by representatives from Spain’s Valencia, who offered €23 million and their immediate arrival in Zagreb, but Zdravko Mamic informed them not to get on a plane because Modric was still not for sale. There was so much surprise in that decision that Daniel Levy, the President of Tottenham and only President in an English club who finished a degree in Economics from Cambridge, called Mamic and informed him that, for the first time ever, he would ˝personally discuss the sale of Modric if necessary˝. That didn’t help either.

Ajax, Hamburger, and Werder then contacted Dinamo with the most concrete offers for Modric, while Barcelona and Real were scouting him. The press reported that Modric wanted to go to Barcelona, but Barcelona did not make an offer that could impress Mamic. From what we have uncovered, Barcelona offered €15 million, hoping that the club’s name would be impressive enough for Mamic and Modric to sign. Mamic rejected this, in part because it was not certain in December whether Dinamo would win the Croatian championship this year without Modric.

Daniel Levy told Mamic, “I’ve come to get Luka Modric. If I don’t do it now, we’ll never meet againDaniel Levy told Mamic, “I’ve come to get Luka Modric. If I don’t do it now, we’ll never meet again
In Croatia, most journalists and fans attacked Mamic for his decision not to sell Modric. He was not sure what was going on; when he sold Da Silva and Corluka, he was attacked for selling off his players, and now he was being attacked for not selling Modric. There were reports that Modric was upset that he was not leaving, which was the truth, as was it true that his parents never bothered Mamic with questions on why he did not sell their son.

In January everything froze, but in February the greatest European clubs began to once again show their interest in Luka Modric. At first, contact was not made by the highest ranking club representatives but lower level representatives contacted Dinamo, as well as licensed managers. In certain cases, they personally contacted Modric, but he told them the same thing every time – call Zdravko Mamic. At the end of February, Newcastle and Tottenham were the most interested for Modric and at the beginning of this month, Daniel Levy, the President of Tottenham, called Mamic on the telephone to discuss the conditions and told him that it would be best to continue the negotiations in London. The Mamic brothers went to Newcastle and announced the final amount which they were seeking for Modric - €30 million and €2.5 million annual pay for Modric. Of course, the Mamic brothers were ready to accommodate the club, from making payments in installations to the option of paying this amount for compensation if Modric would play a specific number of matches in one season. Newcastle requested 48 hours for their response, and once the deadline ran out, they offered €22 million. Tottenham offered approximately the same amount. It was time for the Mamic brothers to make their decision because Dinamo became the Croatian champion, and the European Championships were nearing and it would be best for Modric to sign a deal before the European Championships.

The only thing which bothered the Mamic brothers at that time was the relation of the Great British pound to the Euro, because the GB pound was much stronger in December than it is now. However, £18.16 million last weekend was worth €23 million, while in December it was worth €25.25 million, €2.5 million more than now. Because the negotiations included payment in the Great Britain pound, Mamic realized that he was losing on the exchange rate. He is losing on Eduardo da Silva while Arsenal makes payment in pounds while he is not losing anything on the Corluka deal because payment was agreed in euros.

Arsene Wenger was the first to want Modric last July immediately after he purchased Eduardo da Silva. Zdravko Mamic knew that Arsenal could not offer more than €15 million, which was much less than the €30 million which Mamic requested.Arsene Wenger was the first to want Modric last July immediately after he purchased Eduardo da Silva. Zdravko Mamic knew that Arsenal could not offer more than €15 million, which was much less than the €30 million which Mamic requested. Last week it was clear that Modric was sold, but it was unclear who the buyer was. Zdravko and Zoran Mamic travelled to Newcastle and met with Tony Jimenez and Dennis Wise, former football player and the current Executive Director of Newcastle. They met with British billionaire Mike Ashley for the first time, the owner of Newcastle, as well as Kevin Keegan, former football star who is now the manager of Newcastle. It was actually Keegan who was impressed with Modric, and to charm the Mamic brothers, he reminded them of the first half of the 1980’s when he played for Hamburger SV. At that time, the coach for HSV was Branko Zebec, and Ivan Buljan played, and to impress the Mamic brothers he portrayed his knowledge of Croatia curse words. The jokes and cursing did not change the standpoint of Newcastle or the Mamic brothers. Newcastle continued to offer €23 million, while the Mamic brothers requested more and rejected Newcastle.

At that moment, Zdravko Mamic thought that he would have a calm weekend and that he would receive a new offer on Monday. On Friday night, at 22.30, after jogging near Tuskanac, he came home and had a shower. At that moment, his brother Zoran called him and said: “Daniel Levy is at the Westin, come quickly, he wants to finish the negotiations for Modric.” That was the peak of the waiting game because Levy was quite nervous, knowing that Zdravko Mamic refused not only his offer but offers from other clubs several times. That is why he said, immediately upon arrival: “I’ve come to Zagreb to take Luka Modric to Tottenham. If I don’t do that now, we will never meet again.”

That was Levy’s blitzkrieg, who came to Zagreb in complete secrecy without any other clubs knowing. Mamic sat across from him and began to talk endlessly in his own style, and then became quiet at one moment. He realized that he spoke too much, that he was not concentrated and that Levy could win their waiting game. That is why he told Levy: “I am talking too much; why don’t you talk now.” Levy offered €23 million compensation and €2 million per year for Mamic. Mamic accepted and Modric agreed, even though it was clear that Newcastle would most likely raise their offer this week. Mamic had insider information that Liverpool wanted to get involved in the game, because before the first match of the Champions League between Arsenal and Liverpool, Rafael Benitez, Liverpool’s coach, said that he wanted Modric. However, Mamic no longer wanted to wait and does not want to consider now ˝what could have been.˝

Thakashin Shinawatra offered €21 million in December for Modric to sign with Manchester City, which was also rejectedThakashin Shinawatra offered €21 million in December for Modric to sign with Manchester City, which was also rejected

The contract with Tottenham has bonuses: by the end of the year, Dinamo will play a friendly match in London against Tottenham, and by the end of 2009, Tottenham will play an away match in Zagreb and Dinamo will profit from television rights. Modric is the highest paid player which Tottenham has signed. It is not too much for 71-year old Joseph Lewis, whose company ENIC owns Tottenham. He was ranked 369th on the 2007 Forbes List of Richest people, and according to Sunday Times research, he is the 16th richest Brit. He became rich in the 1980’s through foreign currency trade, and he is considered once of the world’s greatest currency traders alongside George Soros. He increased his riches through a restaurant chain, as well as through his purchases of various football clubs and banks. Ten days ago, the Bear Stearns bank went bankrupt where he held 9.4% shares and it is believed that he lost .15 billion, nearly half of his estate, which Forbes estimated at .5 billion. The Sunday Times reports that his estate is valued at £2.8 billion. Not bad for a man who was a high school dropout at 15 and who was employed at his father’s restaurant.

Night flight from Zagreb to London Tottenham’s President Daniel Levy decided to personally end the ten month battle for Luka Modric last week, which was ongoing between leading European football clubs. He boarded his Cessna Citation, flew to Zagreb, and signed a contract with Mamic following difficult negotiations.

Related articles

ZORAN AND ZDRAVKO MAMIC Under pressure from investigators - a witness that could implicate them in match-fixing is scheduled to arrive in Zagreb this week

Secret witness to finger Mamic brothers

A new phase in the showdown with the betting mafia in Croatian football is in the works. The German police has begun to cooperate with much greater… Više