European Soccer

Monday Rewind: Modric eyed by Madrid, QPR sign Nelsen and Johnson, & more




Tottenham's difficult offseason looks set to continue as rumors suggest that Luka Modric will depart White Hart Lane this summer.

Modric is widely expected to leave Tottenham after the North London club missed out on Champions League qualification for the second straight year. Manchester United and Chelsea were once considered the frontrunners to sign the highly coveted 26-year-old playmaker, but now it looks like Real Madrid is the preferred destination. 

The 26-year-old Modric, who joined Tottenham from Dinamo Zagreb for €16.5 million in 2008, is known for his calmness and composure on the ball, as well as his outstanding vision and passing. Jose Mourinho sees the Croatian as the perfect compliment to Xabi Alonso in Real's midfield, and is said to be keen on completing the signing before the preseason starts.

While no final agreement has been reached, unfortunately for Spurs fans, the opportunity to play in a team full of superstars competing for the highest prize in Europe may well be too much for the Croatian to turn down.

Here are some other stories from Monday to round out your day:


QPR narrowly survived relegation from the Premier League this season, and now Mark Hughes is ready to strengthen his squad to avoid a similar fate in the 2012-13 campaign.  

QPR announced the signings of New Zealand and Tottenham central defender Ryan Nelsen, and former England and Fulham striker Andrew Johnson. Both players were previously managed by Mark Hughes at Blackburn and Fulham respectively, and join QPR on free transfers.

Nelsen, who captained New Zealand at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa and will lead the Olympic team in London at the games next month, joins QPR on a one-year contract. Nelsen hopes his move to Loftus Road revitalizes his career, as the 34-year-old defender continues to fight back from multiple knee injuries that cost him his job at Blackburn, and more recently, Tottenham.

Johnson, who scored a hat-trick for Fulham in a 6-0 rout of QPR at Craven Cottage last October, joins QPR on a two-year deal. The former England striker scored a commendable 11 goals in 26 appearances in 2011-12, despite suffering a series of injuries and not being a regular in Fulham’s team.


Arsenal looks to be closing in on Montpellier and France striker, Olivier Giroud. The 25-year-old French footballer, currently part of the country’s 2012 Euro squad, helped Montpellier to a surprise Ligue 1 championship this season. Known for his size, physical style of play, and heading ability, Giroud starred in the lower divisions before securing a move to top-flight football in 2010.

Giroud scored 21 goals and provided 9 assists in 36 league games for Montpellier this season. His breakout year put him on the radar of several major European clubs, but it looks like Arsenal will be his landing spot. Arsene Wenger believes that the striker’s hold up play and quick transitions from midfield to attack will help ease the load on Robin Van Persie.

Giroud would be the second marquee signing for Arsene Wenger this summer, the first being Germany and former Cologne star Lukas Podolski.


Ukraine striker and hometown hero Andriy Shevchenko is listed as doubtful for tomorrow's critical Group D match against England. The 35 year old striker, who scored both goals in Ukraine's win against Sweden, is struggling with a knee injury picked up in the first two games.

If Shevchenko is ruled out of Tuesday's match against England, it will be a huge blow to a co-host side looking to qualify for its first quarter finals at the European Championship. Apart from his skill and experience, Shevchenko is regarded as an inspirational figure whose presence on the field can help get the best out of his team mates. 

Ukraine currently sit in 3rd place in Group D, and win against England is the country's only ticket to the next round.


Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner has been fined €100,000 and suspended for one World Cup qualifier for exposing sponsored underwear in Denmark's Euro 2012 defeat to Portgual. UEFA's rules state that players "must not reveal undergarments showing slogans or advertising." Bendtner broke the rule when he dropped his shorts below his waistline to reveal an ad for Paddy Power. 

UEFA's statement read, "Following the opening of disciplinary proceedings concerning the improper conduct of Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner at the UEFA EURO 2012 Group B match against Portugal in Lviv on Wednesday 13 June, the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body has decided to suspend the player for one competitive fixture.

This suspension applies to the next 2014 FIFA World Cup match, including the qualifying competition, for which Bendtner is eligible. The player has also been fined €100,000. An appeal can be lodged against this decision within three days of the dispatch of the full written decision."

Bendtner will reportedly appeal the decision that rules him out of the Danes’ opening World Cup qualifier, at home to the Czech Republic on Sept. 8.


Manchester United and Brazil defender Rafael is set to sign a new contract that will keep him at Old Trafford through 2016. The attacking full-back, rated very highly by Sir Alex Ferguson, has made 90 appearances for the senior side since his arrival in July 2008, including a start against Barcelona in the 2009 Champions Leage final.

The 21-year old's agent said, "Rafael is very happy to stay at Manchester United, who are one of the giants of world football and always play in Europe's biggest competitions. Manchester United are the club that opened the door for him. He is loved, respected and has prestige at the club. We are all very happy that he is renewing his contract."

Rafael's agent also confirmed that twin brother Fabio, who also plays for Manchester United, will be loaned out to QPR after Sir Alex Ferguson revealed that he is not in the plans for next season. 


What do you think about Shevchenko being listed as doubtful for tomorrow's match against England? Sad to see one of the greatest striker's of our generation go out like this? Sad to see Modric leave Tottenham? Hoping that Arsenal sign Giroud to pair with Podolski and Van Persie?

Share your thoughts below.  

  • Travis

    As much as I find Bendtner to be a goof that fine is a joke from UEFA. So if I am following the logic correctly showing ones underwear is worse than racism?


  • vik

    No, showing one’s underwear when it is not made by an event sponsor is worse than racism …much worse apparently.


  • wides

    As much as I agree that the disparity in fines is ridiculous especially considering the two acts involved and how one is despicable and the other a bit “cheeky” (pun intended), the hefty fine for the underwear does make some sense.

    Let’s take for instance, if they had just fined him $25K. I bet there are a lot of companies willing to say we’ll pay your fine and give you $25K if you can plug our company on the air in a tournament like this. The fine had to be hefty, it’s meant to discourage players and companies from saying, I’ll pay the fine and still come out ahead.

    That being said, racism sucks.


  • caifan

    90 appearances for the senior side by the age of 21. Effin heck Rafael, you is money!


  • Michael Stypulkoski

    As a Fulham fan I always felt that Johnson never got the minutes he should have. I wish him success at QPR (except for in those West London derbies, obviously).


  • drew

    It also seems that he and Ozil would step on each other toes – similar to what happened with VdV at times in his free flowing position. Sometimes they didn’t really seem to mesh well. But I suppose I would defer to Mourinho when it comes to tactics.


  • ballzgasmic

    True, but you have to find a spot out there for Ozil… I think it could work to put Ozil in a more advanced position and have Modric working behind him with Alonso. Must be a terrible problem to have.


  • sam

    He’ll still come out ahead, what’s an extra 50k to Paddy Power? UEFA looks ridiculous.


  • sam

    Yeah Modric plays much deeper than Ozil–it’s not like he couldn’t play with VdV at Spurs. Kaka plays Ozil’s position, so Modric doesn’t add to that problem; as for Khedira, I’d guess he would share time with Alonso.


  • sam

    He was brilliant, and what impressed me in this tournament was his ability to move from the deep-lying Pirlo role to the no. 10 and dominate in both places.


  • PD

    But the suspension counts for something… He’ll lose money for not being able to rock his go-Daddy jogger bra…


  • BCC

    Doubt Modric to Madrid happens. If it does, Sahin will definitely be gone and maybe Khedira.


  • CSD

    As a QPR fan I have to say these moves are rubbish. So QPR is supposed to have funds available and all they seem to keep getting is players that other teams consider surplus or simply don’t want. Luke Young, Cisse, Barton,Ferdinand and now Johnson are all players that previous teams are happy to get off their books and delighted if they can actually get some money for them.


  • James

    This is all speculation. Modric is Levy’s prisoner. This has become personal, not business, for Levy. Unless someone offered twice what Modric were worth, Levy would say, “No!”.


  • bryan

    first, i will say i have not seen anything with Jose saying himself that he likes Modric as an Alonso replacement. all the Madrid blogs seem to say Modric is an option when Alonso is out.

    Khedira, Kaka, and Alonso all play different positions. Jose has said he wants two players for each position. for midfield and strikers, he has:

    Enforcer/CDM – Khedira (Granero, Diarra, Gago)
    CM – Alonso (Sahin)
    CAM – Ozil (Kaka)
    LW – CR (no true sub)
    CF – Benz (Higuain)
    RW – Di Maria (Callejon)

    Modric would slide into the “CM” category, not the enforcer category. What I will say is that Modric could fill in as a “CAM” too, but Canales is an option too. and that makes sense given Kaka is likely leaving. Javi Martinez and M’Vila are the CDM players Madrid are supposedly keen on. along with Yaya Toure. Madrid will likely sell Diarra and Gago. depending on who they can get, Granero could be part of a trade.

    point is, Modric isn’t going to start for Madrid unless he can take over for Ozil or Alonso. he does not play the same position as Khedira, so I doubt he takes his place. yes, you could argue Alonso would just move back, but i don’t think that is realistic. like others have said, Ozil and Modric are too similar and Jose really likes his version of a 4-3-3. which is really a 4-3-2-1 on defense.


  • bryan

    exactly. Modric plays the same spot as Alonso or Sahin, not Ozil and Kaka. i don’t see them selling Sahin. but maybe a loan? either way, i am not sure signing Modric is the best idea. if he is happy being Alonso’s replacement, then fine.


  • bryan

    dude, why would Khedira have anything to worry about? Modric does not play his position and Jose is NOT selling him. Khedira is the Madrid starting CDM now. Alonso does not play that role for Madrid. Modric would be fighting with Alonso for a spot in his TRUE position. he could also push Ozil but that isn’t even his main position. he lies deeper than an attacking mid, but does not hold as far back as an enforcer type midfielder.

    Modric only goes to Madrid if he is fine sitting on the bench and trying to take Alonso or Ozil’s spot. as a Madrid fan, that would be fantastic! that’s the only way losing Kaka would make me feel better.


  • bryan

    spot on about Sahin though. Modric would be in direct competition with Sahin.


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