All eyes were on Luka Modric as Tottenham continued their pre-season tour of South Africa with a 1-1 draw against Orlando Pirates yesterday.
The diminutive Croatian is angling for a move away from the club – with Chelsea his preferred destination – and has submitted a transfer request to Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.
However, Levy is determinedly blocking the exit door at White Hart Lane, meaning Modric’s first outing of the campaign was in the white shirt of Tottenham rather than the blue of their rivals from west London.
The midfielder, who sat out Spurs’ 1-0 loss to Kaizer Chiefs earlier in the tour, strolled through 59 minutes of the game against the Pirates while wearing the captain’s armband.
It was left to Rafael van der Vaart to provide the fireworks on the pitch, with the Dutchman scoring a spectacular 20-yard free kick to put Spurs ahead in the first half.
The Pirates’ equalizer also came before the interval, with Brad Friedel clumsily allowing Happy Jele’s long-range effort to cross the line in the 40th minute.
Should Modric leave, Van der Vaart will be required to shoulder more of Spurs’ creative burden while continuing to offer a goalscoring threat.
As it is, the 28-year-old is joint-13th favourite to finish the season as the Premier League’s top goalscorer with odds of 33/1.
A successful £25 free bet on Van der Vaart to win the Barclays Golden Boot, available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account, would return £850.
Meanwhile, Rangers received a much-needed boost ahead of the start of their league campaign with a 2-0 win away to Blackpool.
The Gers have had a difficult pre-season so victory against the Seasiders will be good preparation for their match against Hearts on Saturday.
Rangers are second-favourites to retain their title in bwin’s football betting market with odds of evens.
Elsewhere, there were away wins for Villarreal, who beat Aberdeen 1-0; Wolves, who beat Walsall 3-2; and Leeds, who won 1-0 against Rochdale.
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