The Croatian was a classy yet combative midfield maestro for the Lilywhites, and yet following his first season at Real Madrid was voted alongside Alex Song as one of the worst La Liga signings for that season.
Fans from the white half of north London were likely the only ones who maintained belief he would come good, having also seen Andre Villas-Boas dub him “one of the greatest talents in the world”.
Now, Spurs could be hoping to repeat that feat as Fabio Paratici is reportedly eyeing a move for Lovro Majer. The Rennes midfielder has already seen a €60m (£53m) valuation slapped upon his head, which is indicative of the immense quality he clearly possesses.
The 25-year-old may already be drawing comparisons with him and his legendary 37-year-old compatriot, but not just because of their shared nationality.
Not only have they enjoyed similar career paths, passing through Dinamo Zagreb on their way to stardom, but their slight figures both belie the work rate and toughness they possess.
This season the silky operator is recording an 85% pass accuracy, which he converts into one key pass per game. He then blends this with 1.1 tackles per 90 too (via Sofascore), outlining him as an all-around outstanding option.
Obviously comparing these numbers to Modric directly outlines the gulf in quality, but his 90% pass accuracy, 1.5 key passes and 0.8 tackles per game (via Sofascore) this season showcase that he does excel in the right areas to be a direct replacement.
Perhaps moving to join a higher quality of players could see Majer increase his level as Modric did, which would in effect allow him to emulate his career further.
It may be a lofty goal to follow the path of the Ballon d’Or winner, but they share all the attributes that make it seem a truly attainable possibility.