Rapid kick out Jelavic after ‘shock’ statement

Rapid Vienna star Nikica Jelavic has “shocked” club bosses by making clear he does not want to play for the side any longer.Rapid President Rudolf Edlinger said he agreed with the coaching squad to suspend the player after his controversial announcement – made only hours before the team’s most important match so far in the season.Edlinger explained around midday today (Thurs): “Against our expectations, Nikica Jelavic informed us this morning that he does not want to perform for Rapid any more. This is a shock for the whole ‘Rapid family’. Rapid is a club with a lot of passion and emotion.”Edlinger fumed: “Someone making such a statement here is wrong since he hits fans and members in the face.”Jelavic has been linked to Glasgow Rangers and other foreign clubs due to his strong performances in the Austrian Bundesliga and last season’s UEFA Europa League group stage. He has been expected to leave before the summer transfer window closes on 31 August.Edlinger said only yesterday that the 24-year-old Croat would be part of Rapid’s line-up in the Europa league qualifier against Aston Villa tonight (kickoff: 6.45pm). That would have prevented the striker from playing for Rangers in this season’s UEFA Champions League group stage.The Scottish champions reportedly offered almost five million Euros for Jelavic, who joined the “Green-Whites” from Belgian side Zulte Waregem for less than one million Euros two years ago.Edlinger criticised the striker for “letting down the team and the whole club” with his announcement this morning.The club boss stressed: “We would not have allowed him to leave the club so shortly before a crucial match. But if someone says he doesn’t want to play for Rapid, he may leave.”The former Social Democratic (SPÖ) finance minister added: “We are deeply affected by those indecent statements. I think the Rapid supporters will understand our decision.”Rapid bosses are now pressed to sign an equal replacement for the national team star over fears die-hard fans may revolt if the club saves the takings.The club angered many of its fans last summer by letting Stefan Maierhofer and Erwin Hoffer leave – despite trying to keep at least one of the strikers who had found the net 50 times between them in 36 league matches in the 2008/2009 season.The Austrian national team stars, however, had doomed spells at their new clubs. Hoffer recently joined German club 1. FC Kaiserslautern from Italian giants SSC Napoli in a one-year loan deal, while Maierhofer fled Premiership club Wolverhampton Wanderers and went to MSV Duisburg in the second German league.Albanian national team ace Hamdi Salihi is tipped to fill the gap left by Jelavic against Villa tonight. Rapid kicked out the Premier League side in the same round of the same event last season thanks to two goals by their estranged Croatian star.National channel ORF will screen the match live on ORF 1 before broadcasting the clash between ÖFB Cup winners Sturm Graz and Italian side Juventus (kickoff: 9.05pm).Austria Vienna, who finished the past season in second, lost 0-1 against Greek club Thessaloniki F.C. in the first leg of their Europa League qualifier on Tuesday.Austrian title-holders Red Bull Salzburg’s chances to play in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time have dwindled as the club coached by Huub Stevens lost 2-3 to Israeli champions Hapoel Tel Aviv F.C. last night.All return matches will take place next week.The Austrian Bundesliga will continue with three games on Saturday and a further two matches on Sunday.