Laudrup staying put until summer


Japanese soccer is “important” to Michael Laudrup but he has been told by his Qatari club Lekhwiya that he is staying put until the end of June, the agent for the former Barcelona and Real Madrid star told Kyodo News on Friday.

“We’re exploring all possibilities,” said Bayram Tutumlu, who represents the 50-year-old Dane. “Laudrup knows Japan well, and the Japan national team is important to him.”

Tutumlu said he has been told by Qatari champions Lekhwiya that while they are aware his name has come up in connection with the Japan national team job, they “have no intention of letting him go.”

Laudrup, who has also been linked with the Queens Park Rangers job, had a 15-game spell in the J. League from 1996 to 1997 with Vissel Kobe.

Laudrup, along with former Roma coach Luciano Spalletti, is one of several prospects the Japan Football Association is reportedly targeting as successor to Javier Aguirre, who was fired last week after being named as a defendant in a criminal complaint for match-fixing in Spain.

Tutumlu would not say whether he had been approached by the JFA but made it clear Laudrup is prepared to honor his contract with Lekhwiya, which runs through June — when Japan’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign will begin.

The JFA, ideally, wants its new coach signed by the start of the J. League season on March 7 so he has time to scout the domestic front before Japan’s two home friendlies on March 27 and 31 against Tunisia and Uzbekistan, respectively.

If Laudrup is seeing out his existing contract, that would also rule out the former Danish international taking over from Harry Redknapp at QPR before the Premier League season ends.