A Quick and Dirty Overview of Anthony Modeste’s Non-Return

Whose transfer is not processed?


It’s been more than two months since the return of Anthony Modeste was announced at a celebration of the club’s 70th “birthday”, and there remains no sign that he’s going to be allowed to actually play for the 1. FC Köln.

And now club Vice President Tony Schumacher indicated that the prospects of Modeste running free through second-division defenses anytime soon are dimming.

“It could be that Tony Modeste is not be allowed to play for us,” admitted Schumacher to kicker.de in a piece published on Monday. “That the legal situation would become so complicated was not foreseeable.”

The complication comes from the fact that Modeste is still, apparently, under contract with Chinese first-division club Tianjin Quanjian FC (which no longer technically exists, but more on that later).

Some complication!

The Modeste camp claimed that the player’s contract had been invalidated because the club had failed to make some payments to Modeste. Club business director Alexander Wehrle would later say that a legal team employed by 1. FC Köln had reviewed the contract and financials and determined that Modeste’s claim was legally valid, which lead to negotiations for the Frenchman’s return to the Cathedral City.

Once the Modeste move was officially announced, Quanjian officials publicly cried foul and intimated that legal action against the club could result.

And then . . . FIFA!

The football overlords delivered an opinion via its “Dispute Settlement Chamber” that Tianjin Quanjian did indeed owe money to Modeste, but also that Modeste has terminated his employment at the club without valid basis.

“We are not involved in the proceedings. There is no new state of affairs for us,” said Wehrle after FIFA, in December, suspended the registration process for a match permit for Modeste to being playing for the FC. “We will await the verdict.”

Then a new state of affairs arrived earlier this month when the Chinese club was thrown into chaos by off-field issues. I’m into the football and less into Chinese business dealings, but I know that Quanjian was a purveyor of “natural” medical treatments, one of which was implicated in the death of a seven-year-old cancer patient. The arrest of CEO Shu Yuhui led to the club being renamed Tianjin Tianhai and placed under the control of Tianjin Football Association.

Currently without a sponsor and with reports that the club needs to find upwards of 55 million Euro to get through the season, Tianhai may be forced to unload players, which the FC may see as an opportunity to settle the Modeste affair between the two club outside the FIFA ruling.

It’s possible (likely?) that Schumacher’s public stance on the matter is meant to indicate to Tianhai officials that the FC is willing to wait for the Chinese club to want to be out from under Modeste’s salary.

That is, it may be little more than a negotiating tactic. Considering the club’s current table position (second place, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock) and offensive production of Simon Terodde and Jhon Cordoba, it would be easy to make a case to the Chinese club that they need to be rid of the player more than the FC needs him at the moment.

The wild card, of course, would be if Tianhai does find a well-funded sponsor who is happy to pay to keep Modeste in the team. Then we might see how serious the FC is about bringing the big fella “home.” 

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