Spurs have already rejected two Chelsea bids for Modric this summer, worth £22m and £27m, and the chairman, Daniel Levy, has insisted that the unsettled midfielder, who has expressed a desire to move to Stamford Bridge, will not be sold at any price. Despite this, a third bid has been anticipated for some time but with Chelsea apparently reluctant to offer more than £30m for the 25-year-old, they are now exploring alternative ways of adding value to any deal.
Chelsea had been resistant to the idea of offering players as part of any deal for the Croatian, their principal creative midfield target. That stance is understood to have shifted with the option of offering the two players in part-exchange, together with a fee of around £27m, now under discussion.
Chelsea's manager André Villas-Boas is aware that despite off-loading Yuri Zhirkov to Anzhi Makhachkala this summer, he must create spaces within his 25-man Premier League squad to be submitted next month – only 17 of whom can be non-homegrown senior players – if he is to strengthen the midfield.
The Premier League runners-up are also monitoring Raul Meireles's availability at Liverpool, though their priority remains Modric. But it remains to be seen whether Tottenham would be receptive to the possibility of taking either of the players potentially on offer. Benayoun has attracted tentative interest from Roma, Galatasaray and clubs in Russia this close season, and is the man whose position would be most under threat should Modric move across the capital.
The Israeli was denied the chance to make an impact in his first year at Chelsea after suffering a serious achilles injury last September and despite the 31-year-old impressing in pre-season, reports emerged in Israel last week that he expects to leave Stamford Bridge.
Kalou's possible availability would constitute more of a surprise and the Ivorian started Sunday's draw at Stoke City. However, Chelsea have a host of forward options with Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba – a player Tottenham would be keener to sign – Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka now joined by Romelu Lukaku, and with Daniel Sturridge having impressed on loan at Bolton last term and for his own club in pre-season. The England Under-21 striker, who is serving a three-match suspension, is expected to play a significant role this term.
Tottenham still hope to refresh their own frontline this summer – they have sold Robbie Keane to LA Galaxy for £3.5m and may yet move on any of Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe or Roman Pavlyuchenko – though it would still represent something of a reversal of policy if Levy was suddenly receptive to a Modric deal with makeweights thrown in.
Comparisons have been drawn with Spurs' apparently similar hard-line stance with both Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov, which mellowed after much wrangling as the transfer deadline approached in both cases, though the Croatian's case is very different.
Carrick only had two years to run on his Spurs contract in 2006 and had made it clear he would not sign a new deal at the club. With Berbatov in 2008, Tottenham feared the Bulgarian might invoke the Webster ruling and buy out the remainder of his contract the following summer to force through his own move to Manchester United, effectively for a knock-down fee. Yet Modric is contracted until 2016 and has been commended for his professionalism since arriving at White Hart Lane.
Having secured Lukaku and Thibault Courtois, Chelsea still hope to secure a third addition from Belgium before the end of the month, after holding further talks with Genk over their 20-year-old winger Kevin De Bruyne.
The young forward may be loaned back to his current club for 12 months, if a fee is agreed. "My agent went to Chelsea on Wednesday and discussions have been good," De Bruyne said. "Maybe, by the end of the month, a deal can be sorted out because that would be a good thing for all three-parties. If there is an agreement with Chelsea, I would certainly spend another year at Genk."
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