The little magician

Luka Modric's most effective position is arguably in an advanced, attacking midfield role, preferably out on the left wing, but unlike many other attacking midfielders, Modric is more than capable of tracking back to help the defence. By Tom Coleman.

It's not surprising that Tottenham are desperate to keep hold of their midfield maestro Luka Modric.

His passing range, vision and creativity proved vital in helping Spurs qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time, and he is undoubtedly one of the most valuable players at the club.

He can play with both feet, has exceptional off-the-ball positioning and can cause problems for any defence.

His most effective position is arguably in an advanced, attacking midfield role, preferably out on the left wing, but unlike many other attacking midfielders, Modric is more than capable of tracking back to help the defence.

Modric's versatility, as well as his blistering skill, has lead to much praise over the years. In 2008, Croatia boss Slaven Bilic claimed that Modric was second only to Brazilian superstar Kaka.

New Chelsea boss Andre Villas Boas is his latest admirer and is clearly determined to lure him to Stamford Bridge after having bids of GBP22million and GBP27million rejected, but Spurs won't give up their star man without a fight.

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.

The player 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.

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has 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.''

Being kept against his will is a feeling that might seem a little strange to Modric, considering he has previously used football as a method of escape.

Modric began playing football when he was only six years old after his family fled their home village of Modrici, near Zadar, during the Croatian War of Independence.

He showed promise as a youngster and was snapped up by Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb in 2002 at the age of 17.

After one season he was loaned out to Bosnian side Zrinjski Mostar where he developed his skills, scoring eight goals in 22 games, as well as winning Bosnia's Player of the Year award.

He returned to Croatia the following season when he was loaned out to Inter Zapresic, helping them achieve a runner-up spot and secure a place in the Europa League, scoring four goals in 18 appearances, picking up the Croatia Football Hope of the Year award along the way.

He returned to Dinamo a year later, and after a disappointing first season, he became a regular in the side, notching up seven goals in 31 games to help them win the league.

Modric never looked back, enjoying a six-year stay at the club with the impressive record of 31 goals and 29 assists, as well as helping Dinamo win the league by a commanding 28 points in the 2007-8 season.

His form attracted the interest of Juande Ramos at Spurs, who paid GBP16million to take him to White Hart Lane.

Modric struggled at first due to Ramos deploying him in a defensive role that was far too deep, but his performances improved when Ramos was replaced by Redknapp.

The new manager seemed far more eager to harness Modric's attacking talents, leading him to put in a series of inspiring performances that helped Spurs win a Champions League spot.

Whether he has also earned a big-money move to Chelsea remains to be seen.

Modric is currently with long-time girlfriend Vanja Bosnic.

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Name: Luka Modric Position: Midfielder Club: Tottenham D.O.B: 9/9/1985 Croatia caps: 44 Croatia goals: 7 Croatia debut: v Argentina, 2006

Moment to remember: Named in UEFA's team of the tournament after the European Championships in 2008.

Moment to forget: Missing his spot-kick in a penalty shootout against Turkey in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 as Croatia were eliminated.