Luka Modric has not created a rift within the Tottenham squad by declaring that he wants to join Chelsea, according to Spurs captain Michael Dawson.
Modric is reported to have upped the stakes in his stand-off with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy by handing in a transfer request to force through what he sees as a “dream” move to Chelsea.
The Croatian has already infuriated the club’s fans by publicly talking up his desire to leave for one of the club’s closest rivals and he has also upset Levy by launching a stinging attack on the chairman last week via the Croatian media.
His repeated public posturing over his unhappiness at White Hart Lane has not made him an enemy within the Tottenham ranks though, Dawson said yesterday as the squad prepared for their first pre-season match against Kaizer Chiefs in Johannesburg tomorrow.
“We are all friends with Luka,” Dawson said.
“We have got great team spirit amongst the players and we want to keep that together.”
Spurs were not willing to give any ground in their refusal to sell the star yesterday as manager Harry Redknapp backed his chairman’s hard-line stance, saying: “We know he wants to leave and whether he writes it down on a piece of paper doesn’t really make any difference to our stance.
“He’s a great player and we don’t want to lose him.”
The club are hoping that the 10-day tour, which includes two more games against South African opposition, will take the focus away from the tussle for the 25-year-old, who has been the subject of £22m and £27m bids from Chelsea.
Those hopes will be dashed if the Blues return with a bigger offer of between £30-35m before the squad heads back to England a week on Sunday.
Modric trained with his team-mates on the first full day of their tour yesterday and is expected to train again this morning.
Assistant manager Kevin Bond is in charge of the squad until Redknapp arrives in Johannesburg on Sunday when he is expected to hold talks with Modric over his future.
Redknapp has praised Modric’s attitude in training since he returned from his summer break and Bond was in a similar mood when talking about the Croatian yesterday evening.
“Luka has been as good as gold,” Bond told Sky Sports News.
“He is no different now to how he has been all of the time.
“He is working hard in training and he is very much part of the group. I see no difference in Luka Modric.”
Meanwhile, Tottenham suffered a blow in their attempt to sell fringe player Giovani Dos Santos to Sevilla last night.
The former Barcelona youngster has spent the majority of his time at White Hart Lane on loan and Spurs had hoped to sell him to the Andalucian outfit on a permanent deal.
Those hopes appeared to be dashed last night though when Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido said: “Tottenham want a sale but at the moment Sevilla are only interested in a loan with the first option to buy.
“This is the problem because the subject is complicated.”