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

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

European Soccer

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

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By SEAN BALKAN

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 SIGN NELSEN AND JOHNSON

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 CLOSE IN ON MONTPELLIER'S GIROUD

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.

SHEVCHENKO DOUBTFUL FOR CRUCIAL MATCH vs. ENGLAND

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.

BENDTNER FINED €100,000 

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.

MAN UNITED SIGNS RAFAEL TO NEW DEAL

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. 

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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.  

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